A recent entry on Ven Sujato's blog:Reform http://sujato.wordpress.com/2009/11/25/reform/
Is worth reading if you are completely unfamiliar with the developments in Burma and Thailand in the 19th and 20th Centuries: In Thailand the founding of the Dhammayut sect by King Monkut, and thoroughly established by one of his sons, and the beginnings of the various Forest groups; in Burma the developments in meditation instruction by the likes of Ledi Sayadaw, Mahasi Sayadaw, U Ban Kin, Goenka, Pa Auk Sayadaw, etc. Ven Sujato's Blog covers some of this, perhaps a little superficially. He also mentions the question of translation to local languages, which he claims was actually precipitated by the early English translation efforts.
One thing that I think is useful to have an overview of is that the Thai and Thai-derived meditation teachers who are well-known in the west (such as the Ajahn Chah group, Ven Thanissaro, etc) are the ones who tend to be the "Suttas + personal experience" type, derived from the Forest groups, whereas the Burmese teachers (and hence many western "vipassana" instructors, such as Joseph Goldstein) are much more Abhidhamma/Commentary based.