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Synopsis

The Mekong is one of the world's great rivers, and by far the largest in Southeast Asia. Flowing through or beside no less than six countries - China, Burma, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam - the Mekong River has a rich and often turbulent history and has played a vital, if changing, role in the politics and economies of these countries.; The Mekong is one of the world's great rivers, and by far the largest in Southeast Asia. Empires have risen and fallen in the lands through which the Mekong flows and it has been linked to remarkable adventure and exploration as well as war and massacre. Now that Indochina is at peace, new dangers threaten the river's future. For more than forty years Milton Osborne has been fascinated by the Mekong and its history. He has lived beside it, travelled on it and written an acclaimed account of its exploration in the nineteenth century. Here he recounts the history of the river from its earliest times to the present, a history full of the stories of remarkable men-Spanish and Portuguese freebooters and missionaries who briefly held the fate of Cambodia in their hands; French explorers who were recognised in the nineteenth century as the equal of Burton and Livingstone, but are now largely forgotten even in France; a martyred Cambodian monsignor and an Australian-educated Vietnamese reflecting on communist rule. In the present century the Mekong has been at the heart of two wars, while one of the lands along its course, Cambodia, witnessed the terrible tyranny of the Pol Pot regime. While the author's own original research has shaped his writing on the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, the book is a masterly distillation of the river's history from the earliest times to the present. A new chapter brings this edition up to date on recent developments in the region.

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