September 2013

YANGON—The independent newspaper I’m working for is located in a six-storey low-rise just two blocks from our apartment. The English edition is on the fifth floor, where foreign staffers enjoy an air-conditioned room while local reporters and translators share a long, two-sided bank of open cubicles in the main hallway. The locals use decrepit PCs […]

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Earlier this year when I signed the book deal for The Trial of Pope Benedict, I was convinced that this would be the end of all my writing about popes—and the Roman Catholic Church, for that matter. The book was intended as a kind of closure: my one and only statement about an institution I […]

Yangon Diaries II: Take a Pill

September 17, 2013

YANGON–A few nights ago, I didn’t sleep very well. When I began to shiver, Lune checked my forehead and wrapped an extra blanket around me. He said I had a fever. The next morning, I woke up with a low-grade headache. “This is it,” I thought, my Woody Allen-ish hypochondria going into overdrive. “Cerebral malaria. […]


YANGON—“Try not to do more than one thing a day in Myanmar,” Kay sighed one night, as we waited in vain for a good connection to g-mail at a local Internet shop. “You might be disappointed.” Our main Burmese contact—and new best friend—was noting how a simple procedure that takes only minutes in North America […]

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Good Morning, Myanmar!

September 3, 2013

YANGON—Well, it took a quarter of a century, but I’m finally here. Finally seeing a country that, ever since that certain famous uprising in 1988, has captured my imagination, altered my thinking about things like freedom and dissent, and even gifted me my life partner—all without the benefit of once having visited. Myanmar is a […]