No one enters Burmese traffic with any assumptions about fundamental rights. Pedestrians, certainly, enjoy no “right of way.” No one, by the same token, is ever excluded from the game as long as they remain in motion. […] If you get ahead, you were right to try. If you don’t, you were right to yield. What’s to argue?

When it comes to hierarchies, Southeast Asia can be frustratingly (even scandalously) foreign for those of us raised in egalitarian, Western democracies. This is a book which explains clearly and sympathetically, but not uncritically, the logic behind Burma’s hierarchical arrangements with a close focus on the unique role of monks and gender.