Everything Is Broken by Emma Larkin
A Tale of Catastrophe in Burma

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A deeply reported account of life inside Burma in the months following the disastrous Cyclone Nargis and an analysis of the brutal totalitarian regime that clings to power in the devastated nation.

On May 2, 2008, an enormous tropical cyclone made landfall in Burma, wreaking untold havoc and leaving an official toll of 138,300 dead and missing. In the days that followed, the sheer scale of the disaster became apparent as information began to seep out from the hard-hit delta area. But the Burmese regime, in an unfathomable decision of near-genocidal proportions, provided little relief to its suffering population and blocked international aid from entering the country. Hundreds of thousands of Burmese citizens lacked food, drinking water, and basic shelter, but the xenophobic generals who rule the country refused emergency help.

Emma Larkin, who has been traveling to and secretly reporting on Burma for years, managed to arrange for a tourist visa in those frenzied days and arrived hoping to help. It was impossible for anyone to gauge just how much devastation the cyclone had left in its wake; by all accounts, including the regime's, it was a catastrophe of epic proportions. In Everything Is Broken, Emma Larkin chronicles the chaotic days and months that followed the storm, revealing the secretive politics of Burma's military dictatorship and the bizarre combination of vicious military force, religion, and mysticism that defined its unthinkable response to this horrific event.

The Burmese regime hid the full extent of the storm's devastation from the rest of the world, but the terrible consequences for Burma and its citizens continue to play out months after the headlines have faded from newspapers around the world. In Everything Is Broken, Larkin-whose deep knowledge of the Burmese people has afforded her unprecedented access and a rare understanding of life under Burmese oppression-provides a singular portrait of the regime responsible for compounding the tragedy and examines the historical, religious, and superstitious setting that created Burma's tenacious and brutal dictatorship. Writing under an assumed name, Larkin delivers the heretofore untold story of a disaster that stunned the world, unveiling as she does so the motivations of the impenetrable generals who govern this troubled nation.


About Emma Larkin

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\Emma Larkin is the pseudonym for an American who was born and raised in Asia and who studied the Burmese language at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London. She lives in Bangkok, Thailand, and has been visiting Burma for close to fifteen years. Her previous book, Finding George Orwell in Burma, was published by Penguin Press in 2005.
Published April 29, 2010 by Penguin Press HC, The. 288 pages
Genres: History, Political & Social Sciences, Nature & Wildlife, Travel, Science & Math, Law & Philosophy. Non-fiction

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Kirkus Reviews

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Larkin traces these early frantic efforts to distribute aid in spite of the government's resistance and obfuscation—no pictures of the damage were allowed in “the regime's de facto mouthpiece,” the New Light of Myanmar, as the censors deemed them “negative.” The author attributes this recalcitran...

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Publishers Weekly

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Larkin (Finding George Orwell in Burma ), an American journalist writing under a pseudonym, reports on the unreported (and suppressed) story of the May 2008 cyclone Nargis, which devastated southwestern Burma, causing over 100,000 deaths.

Mar 01 2010 | Read Full Review of Everything Is Broken: A Tale ...

The Telegraph

While Larkin leaves no doubt about the nature of the regime, she fails to mention its neighbours.

Sep 02 2010 | Read Full Review of Everything Is Broken: A Tale ...

Christian Science Monitor

For those who want to know what it’s like to be a Burmese inside today’s Burma (Myanmar), Emma Larkin’s book, Everything Is Broken, provides the fullest picture currently available.

Jul 16 2010 | Read Full Review of Everything Is Broken: A Tale ...


Viewers of “Burma VJ”, (website of this 2009 documentary on clandestine video journalists) and readers of Larkin’s Finding George Orwell in Burma will learn about what’s happened in Burma under the twin forces of military suppression of the 2007 demonstrations and Cyclone Nargis of 2008.

Jun 10 2010 | Read Full Review of Everything Is Broken: A Tale ...

Literary Review

Here is the special quality of this regime, as Emma Larkin writes in her latest evocative book: 'Events happen in Burma, and then they are systematically unhappened.' Unhappened is a good word, and very Orwellian, an echo perhaps of Larkin's wonderful previous book on Orwell's early years in Burma.

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