General Ne Win: A Political Biography

General Ne Win: A Political Biography
Date of publication:  2015
Publisher:  Institute of Southeast Asian Studies
Number of pages:  621
Code:  BM513
Soft Cover
ISBN: 9789814620130
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Ashley South. Journal of Contemporary Asia, 46:2, 359-360.

"Robert Taylor has had a distinguished academic career focused mainly on the study of Myanmar. He has produced important work on the military-dominated state (particularly The State in Burma, London: Hurst, 1987), to the extent that he has been identified in some circles as an apologist for the role of the military in Myanmar politics. It is therefore not surprising that he has produced a somewhat indulgent biography of General Ne Win, who led the country's army through the 1950s, and then dominated the country's politics until the 1988 "democracy uprising," when he stepped down from power. The book is nevertheless a comprehensive and valuable contribution towards the literature on modern Myanmar. 

....The marshalling of facts and historical scholarship is impressive - although even the most dedicated reader may sometimes find the detailing of Ne Win's various foreign trips and speeches rather tiring. Although Taylor often takes questionable government data at face value, particularly in his defence of Ne Win's development record (544–550), he nevertheless provides much useful information, for example on peace talks with ethnic insurgents in 1963 (294–295). 

....Robert Taylor has given us by far the most authoritative account of Ne Win's life, embedded in a useful history of Myanmar from independence until 1988. While clearly sympathetic to his subject, Taylor is aware of Ne Win's flaws as a political leader, and the sad legacy he left this country he led, and loved."

Frank Milne. New Mandala. Nov, 23, 2015

About the publication

"Robert Taylor, one of the most prominent scholars in Myanmar studies, has written an illuminating study of Ne Win, the most enigmatic and controversial of the first generation of post-independence Southeast Asian leaders, and how he steered a then largely unknown country, Burma (now Myanmar), through the Cold War years. This book, by perhaps the only foreign political analyst to live in Burma under Ne Win, is asignificant contribution to the historiography of Myanmar and its unnoticed role in the Cold War in Asia."
— Associate Professor Ang Cheng Guan
Head of Graduate Studies, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies
Nanyang Technological University, Singapore.

"This book fills a major gap in the literature on Myanmar by providing the first scholarly account of the life of General Ne Win, its enigmatic ruler for over 25 years. It will be of interest not only to professional Myanmar watchers, who have long awaited a detailed and comprehensive study of this important historical figure, but to anyone who wants to learn more about this troubled Southeast Asian country, where Ne Wins legacy is still being felt today."
— Andrew Selth, Adjunct Associate Professor
Griffith Asia Institute."

"The Colonel Ne Win of World War II and General Ne Win of post-independent Myanmar was not the same as Chairman Ne Win of the BSPP. Nor was the context of those days similar to the context by which he is normally judged today. The present work (and Taylors scholarship in general) is acutely aware of such anachronistic projections backward, made to commensurate with certain desired academic and political consequences. Taylor examines Ne Wins life and career in the context of when it occurred. This book returns Ne Win to the period to which he belonged."
— Michael Aung-Thwin, Professor of South East Asian History
University of Hawaii.

"It is difficult to imagine that this study of Ne Win, the dominant figure in the politics of Burma through most ofthe second half of the twentieth century, will ever be surpassed. Immensely detailed, insightful, and impressively understanding, this is an outstanding work of scholarship."
— Ian Brown, Emeritus Professor of the Economic History of South East Asia
School of Oriental and African Studies (London)

Click here for images of the book launch held at ISEAS on 8 June 2015. 


  • General Ne Win: A Political Biography
    [Whole Publication, ISBN: 9789814620147], by Robert H. Taylor, author
  • Preliminary pages with Photo plates
  • 1. Introduction
  • 2. The Formative Years (July 1910 to December 1941)
  • 3. The BIA and the Resistance (January 1942 to August 1945)
  • 4. Showing the British Out (September 1945 to December 1947)
  • 5. Independence and Civil War (January 1948 to September 1950)
  • 6. Relaxing and Rebuilding (October 1950 to March 1958)
  • 7. Rehearsing and Reviewing (April 1958 to February 1962)
  • 8. Coup d'Etat and Revolution (March 1962 to February 1964)
  • 9. Cold War General (March 1964 to February 1967)
  • 10. Preparation for Transition (March 1967 to February 1972)
  • 11. Transition and Small Change (March 1972 to February 1978)
  • 12. Purifying the Sangha, Unifying the Nation, and Maintaining Genuine Neutrality (March 1978 to February 1988)
  • 13. Failure and Farewell (March 1988 to December 2002)
  • Epilogue: What to Make of Ne WIn?
  • Appendix: Radio Address by Colonel Naywin (7-5-45), to the People of Burma
  • Bibliography
  • Index
  • About the Author

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