In This Review

Only Man Is Vile: The Tragedy Of Sri Lanka
Only Man Is Vile: The Tragedy Of Sri Lanka
By William McGowan
Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1992, 397 pp

Sri Lanka is a country whose reputation as an earthly paradise cannot be easily reconciled with its recent tragedies: a bloody civil war between the majority Sinhalese, most of whom are Buddhists, and the minority and largely Hindu Tamils. McGowan traveled to Sri Lanka in 1986 and spent two years as a reporter talking to the various Buddhist and Hindu factions. He is a deft writer with a keen eye for observation, and he shows how the roots of this violent war lie in the economic legacy of colonialism. Tracing the history and development of the conflict, McGowan provides a fascinating account of the war's tragic, mounting equation. He is doubtful that anything can save this country from its own internal flames.