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Monday, March 27, 2023

Last Days of the Mighty Mekong by Brian Eyler (A Zed Publication)

Last Days of the Mighty Mekong was a vivid presentation by American author Brian Eyler at Chiang Mai’s CMU Faculty of Social Sciences on October 3, 2019. The 384 pages paperback book he offered for sale costs 600 Baht and was published on February 15, 2019.

Brian Eyler, being the director of the Stimson Center ’s Southeast Asia Program in Washington , D.C. , has led many study tours throughout the Greater Mekong Sub-region. Actually, the Lancang-Mekong is the longest river in Southeast Asia, which starts at its headwaters in Qinghai Province in China and runs more than 4, 200 km through China ’s Yunnan Province , Myanmar , Laos , Thailand , Cambodia and Vietnam . Brian called the Mekong River “mighty” because of its natural beauty and its abundance of wildlife. He dramatically described the transformation of the whole basin of the Mekong River by rapid industrial and urban development, mainly by hydroelectric dams, the scale of which has been never seen before. Home to more than 60 million people, the world’s richest agricultural area is nowadays undergoing profound changes and threatening the cutting off food supply for many people living in the basin. Along the way he met the region’s diverse inhabitants, from villagers to community leaders, politicians to policy makers. Through conversations with them he reveals the urgent struggle to save the Mekong and its unique ecosystem. After an introduction, Brian indicated the book’s following chapters going from north to the south:

·  1. Yubeng: The Last Shangri-la

·  2. Damming the Upper Mekong

·  3. The Erhai Valley

·  4. The Akha as Modern Zomians

·  5. The Golden Triangle in Transition

·  6. Laos as a Contested Space

·  7. Damming the Lower Mekong

·  8. Phnom Penh and Boeung Kak Lake

·  9. The Tonle Sap

·  10. Whither the Mekong Delta

All in all, the book is a welcomed addition to the huge literature about the mighty Mekong that will finally see its last days coming. The situation of the Mekong River is now a far cry away from the days, when in November 2002 there was the successfully organized hovercraft expedition from Simao Port down to Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam .

Written by : Reinhard Hohler

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