Burma: a Nation at the Crossroads by Benedict Rogers Rider In 2009, Swedish journalist Bertil Lintner noted that of the military regimes which had grabbed power around the world since 1962, only two remained: in Myanmar and Libya. Two years later, Libya's regime fell, and Myanmar's looked set for change. 'The reforms, however, are largely atmospheric rather than substantial,' writes human rights advocate Benedict Rogers in his impressively humane expose. For more than five decades, Myanmar has been run by one of the world's cruellest regimes routinely accused of atrocities. Still, in the past two years, despite fake elections, the speed of change has been tremendous, Rogers writes. Hence hope, amid complexity. Myanmar is one of Southeast Asia's most diverse countries - some seven ethnic minorities subsist on the margins of the Texas-size nation with a 50-million population. Long at loggerheads with the authorities, the minorities have been brutally mistreated by the ruling junta. The minorities' future will shape how the whole nation fares, according to the London-based Rogers, who has visited the country some 40 times. Rogers explores whether Myanmar faces freedom and prosperity boosted by its immense mineral wealth or more subjugation. Like democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi and most analysts, he has his doubts. Judging by the picture Rogers paints, the picturesque, secretive country's worst demon is racism. One example: the Karen people were left to flounder after 2008's Cyclone Nargis struck, apparently because the regime wanted Nargis to do its dirty work. Likewise, the stateless Muslim Rohingya face humiliation and harassment, including extortion, on a daily basis. Across the country, in Chin State, rape by junta soldiers is rife. In one example logged by the Women's League of Chinland in a report, titled 'Unsafe State', a woman whose son had just been killed by the military was then gang-raped, and strung up on a cross. 'She was hanging outside of the camp the whole night in the freezing winter weather,' says the League's coordinator Cheery Zahau. 'Why would they make the cross to hang the women? The cross is the symbol of Christianity in Chin State; it's one of the mockeries against their beliefs.'' Vicious. If Rogers' expose has a fault it is that it gives scant evidence that the state led by outward reformist Thein Sein really has a solid future. Rogers has largely focused on the nation for the past 15 years. He is previously responsible for the books Than Shwe: Unmasking Burma's Tyrant, and A Land Without Evil: Stopping the Genocide of Burma's Karen People. He also writes for The Guardian, The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times, and has given briefings and speeches at Oxford University, the White House and the European Parliament. The press seems unable to decide whether to refer to the country as 'Myanmar' or 'Burma'. Rogers suggests sticking with Burma because Myanmar is a concoction of the military regime. The heavy-hitter ends Burma: a Nation at the Crossroads with guarded hope. 'Burma truly is at crossroads. For the first time since Ne Win's coup in 1962, there may finally be a possibility that Burma could establish a meaningful democracy - something few would have dared predict until very recently,' he writes.