Marshall, Andrew 1967-
MARSHALL, Andrew 1967-
PERSONAL: Born 1967.
ADDRESSES: Home—Bangkok, Thailand. Agent—c/o Author's Mail, Counterpoint/Perseus Press, 387 Park Avenue South, New York, NY 10016.
CAREER: Writer. Daily Telegraph, London, England, features editor and writer beginning 1988; freelancer in post-revolutionary Romania and Albania, then deputy-editor for Tokyo's leading English-language magazine; British Esquire, chief correspondent.
(With David E. Kaplan) The Cult at the End of the World: The Terrifying Story of the Aum Doomsday Cult, from the Subways of Tokyo to the Nuclear Arsenals of Russia, Crown Publishers (New York, NY), 1996.
The Trouser People, Counterpoint Press (Washington, DC), 2002, published as The Trouser People: The Quest for the Victorian Footballer Who Made Burma Play the Empire's Game, [London, England,] 2002.
SIDELIGHTS: Andrew Marshall, a Bangkok-based journalist who has traveled throughout Asia on assignments since 1993, set out to explore Burma after immersing himself for five years in the diaries of Sir George Scott, a Scottish-born adventurer and war correspondent. Scott arrived in Burma in 1875 and helped establish British colonial rule by photographing and mapping Burma's remote and previously uncharted jungle at its eastern border with China. He also introduced soccer to the country by organizing the first game at a Rangoon university, between the native peoples and their English oppressors, and wrote a book titled The Burman, which was originally published in 1882 and is still in print. The sarong-wearing locals nicknamed their English oppressors "Trouser People," a name Marshall applies to the brutal military dictatorship and drug lords that have oppressed the country since the early 1960s, and which became the title of the book that recounts his own daring trek through Burma.
Fascinated by Scott's adventures, Marshall, under the guise of a tourist, traced Scott's route from Rangoon to the now-forlorn and decrepit royal capital, Mandalay, and then into the remote tribal lands, where he encountered a village of headhunters. Brian Bennett, writing for Time Asia, commented that "Marshall uses the tale of Scott's travels and football's rise as the architecture for a witty account of life in today's diverse and suppressed Burma." Lucian W. Pye, meanwhile, reviewing The Trouser People for Foreign Affairs Magazine, wrote, "Marshall suggests that life today in Burma may be no better than it was one hundred years ago."
The book—the British edition of which is subtitled The Quest for the Victorian Footballer who Made Burma Play the Empire's Game—is part travel guide and part journalism. Will Buckley wrote in the London Observer that "reading Marshall is like being locked in a youth hostel . . . with a new age Canadian....'Ironies' are 'bitter', 'admiration' is 'sneaking' and the 'obvious' is 'blinding'. And that's only the prologue....It cannot be doubted that Marshall, in his bid to 'out-Scott Scott', has been brave to travel to the less charted parts of Burma, and he is at all times worthy. But nothing very amazing happens." Similarly, a contributor to Complete Review online commented: "Marshall doesn't seem very sure what he wants The Trouser People tobe.... Marshall does offer . . . a striking portrait of a horrendous regime. It is not a well-laid out indictment—just bits and pieces, with Scott and football mixed in to keep things confused—but perhaps it will help open some readers' eyes to the plight of this sad, forgotten country."
In contrast, Bertil Lintner wrote in Asia Pacific Media Services Limited that The Trouser People "towers above all other contemporary ooks on Burma—whether they be travelogues, biographies or scholarly texts trying to explain the complexities of the country's tangled politics. Marshall's book is personal without being egocentric, beautifully written, and tells us more about Burma's past and present troubles than most academic writings." Bennett concluded his review of the book by stating that "Marshall gives us a rare glimpse into the jukes and jibes . . . of Burma's mysterious balance of power."
Marshall's earlier book, The Cult at the End of the World: The Incredible Story of Aum, coauthored with David E. Kaplan, plumbs what Wendy Cavenett called, in her online review for Between the Lines, "the deepest underworld in existence—where life is sacrificed and the will of hope abolished." This is the world of Japan's Aum Shinrikyo cult, or the Aum Supreme Truth, a wealthy religious sect with more than 10,000 followers in Japan alone, headed by self-proclaimed messiah and former con-artist Shoko Asahara. Cult members consisted primarily of young, well-educated, highly skilled professionals who left their careers to follow Asahara.
In 1995 cult members released bags of toxic chemicals into Tokyo's subway system, killing twelve people and injuring thousands more. The cult also forged ties with Japan's mafia and KGB veterans in an attempt to obtain nuclear weapons from Russia, and explored Australia's outback for uranium. Cavenett remarked, "It's ultra-real reality, frightening in its impact and disastrous if one thinks of what could have been if the cult was able to continue its master plan of Armageddon.... The pain of [the book's] authors . . . reaches from each page in a desperate attempt to inform of the degree of persecution and dictatorship suffered under the guise of a religious cult." A Publishers Weekly contributor commented, "A superb job of reporting, this account unfolds like a scary cyberpunk thriller presaging a new era of hightech terrorism, and it brings the cult into sharper focus."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Kirkus Reviews, December 15, 2001, review of The Trouser People, p. 1741.
Publishers Weekly, June 10, 1996, review of The Cult at the End of the World: The Incredible Story of Aum, p. 82; November 12, 2001, review of The Trouser People, p. 44.
Spectator, February 16, 2002, Philip Glazebrook, review of The Trouser People, p. 39.
Time International, March 11, 2002, Brian Bennett, "Power Plays: In Search of Burmese Football's Footprints," p. 52.
Asia Pacific Media Services Limited Web site,http://www.asiapacificms.com/ (October 19, 2002), Bertil Lintner, review of The Trouser People.
Between the Lines,http://www.thei.aust.com/ (October 19, 2002), Wendy Cavenett, review of The Cult at the End of the World.
City Pages Online,http://citypages.com/ (October 19, 2002), Tricia Cornell, review of The Trouser People.
Complete Review,http://www.complete-review.com/ (October 19, 2002), review of The Trouser People.
Counterpoint Press Web site,http://www.counterpointpress.com/ (October 19, 2002).
Foreign Affairs Online,http://www.foreignaffairs.org/ (October 19, 2002), Lucian W. Pye, review of The Trouser People.
Guardian Unlimited,http://books.guardian.co.uk/ January 20, 2002, (October 19, 2002), William Buckley, "When the Empire Was Caught with Its Trousers Down."
Time Asia Online,http://time.com/ (October 19, 2002), Brian Bennett, review of The Trouser People.*