The Semi-invisible Man
Published in 1952, Golden Earth remains one of the most timeless guides to Burma. It is classic Lewis, crammed with incident, humour, observation and detail. There is no mistaking the poise of his prose (Luigi Barzini likened reading it to ‘eating cherries’), nor the empathy that characterizes his dealings with everyone he meets, from monks and policemen to businessmen and lorry drivers. Both Golden Earth and its immediate predecessor, A Dragon Apparent (1951), based on his travels in Indochina, are much more than very fine examples of twentieth-century travel literature. This is profoundly civilized writing in defence of ancient civilizations under imminent threat.