Regular readers may have noticed the recent spurt of comments on an old New Mandala post – “Volunteering to fight in Burma”. Much of that renewed interest has been sparked by Thomas Bleming’s new book War in Karen Country: Armed Struggle for a Free and Independent Karen State in Southeast Asia. According to an online synopsis of the book:
What started off as a trip to satisfy his curiosity ends with Bleming fighting for his life and the freedom of the Karen people. Along the way, he makes new friends and earns a top post in the Karen National Union, eventually becoming a full-fledged member of the Karen National Liberation Army. Journey to places where no Westerner has been before and learn about Bleming’s mission to help an oppressed people that have been at war for nearly sixty years…
New Mandala readers hoping to learn more about this mission, and the man behind it, will find much of interest in this lengthy article from The Casper Star-Tribune. Readers keen to learn more about the broader context along Thailand’s border with the Karen State may also want to check out these reviews of Phil Thornton’s Restless Souls: Rebels, Refugees, Medics and Misfits on the Thai-Burma Border. Thornton’s book is, of course, well worth a read by anyone hoping to get a deeper understanding of life in Mae Sot and the areas across the border.
I am yet to see a copy of Bleming’s account of life in the Karen State but I would love to hear from any New Mandala readers who have. We would be very happy to host a review.