There she is, Louisa at fifteen, stepping onto a makeshift stage at the center of Rangoon's Aung San Stadium in 1956. Give yourself to them , she thinks. And immediately one hand goes to her hip, her head tilts upward, her awareness descends to her exposed thighs, to her too muscular calves, now in plain view of the forty thousand spectators seated in the darkening stands. Give them what they need , her mother told her. And Louisa understands that her mother meant more than a view of her gold highheeled sandals (on loan from a friend and pinching her toes), more than the curves accentuated by her white one-piece (copied from a photo of Elizabeth Taylor). Her mother meant something like a vision of hope. Yet what is Louisa's appearance on this garish stage, during the final round of the Miss Burma contest, but a picture of something dangerous. She is approximately naked, her gleaming suit approximately concealing what should be private. She is approximately innocent, pushing a hip to one side, close to plummeting into indignity. A tide of applause draws her farther into the light. She pivots, presenting the judges and the spectators beyond them with a view of her behind (ample thanks to her Jewish father, who sits with her mother somewhere in the stands nearby). Before her now are the other finalists, nine of them, grouped in the shadows upstage. Their smiles are fixed, their eyes gleaming with outrage. "The special contender," the government paper recently called her. How strange to be dubbed "the image of unity and integration" when she has wanted only to go unremarked--she, the mixed-breed, who is embarrassed by mentions of beauty and race. "We never win the games we mean to," her father once told her. Excerpted from Miss Burma by Charmaine Craig All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.