By Fredric M. Roberts
Abbeville Press, $50.00, 120 pages
To most Americans, Burma is a land of mystery and intrigue. Until recently, it was a land closed to outsiders, stuck in the past with no hope for the future. When most Americans think of Burma, they think of the popular musical The King and I. In this collection of photographs, Fredric M. Roberts takes us inside this mysterious and secretive land that few people have seen in recent years. This photographer shows the people of Burma, not the powerful, but the everyday – people working in the fields, people in the market, and Buddhist monks either teaching, learning or praying. This is a chance for Americans to climb into Burma to see what it is truly like.
The photographs are informative, and the book shows that Burma is like many other South Asian countries – a land rich with rice paddies, open air markets, and Buddhist temples across the land. What is different is that the people do not mind the camera peering into their lives, catching a quick glimpse of their daily lives and then moving on; they seem oblivious. What is also missing is the presence of the military; while Roberts did not have free reign in the country, he captures a country that is on the move and opening up to the world slowly.
Reviewed by Kevin Winter