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The Lady And The Peacock: The Life of Aung San Suu Kyi of Burma [Paperback]

Peter Popham
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
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Book Description

14 Jun 2012

Peter Popham's major new biography of Aung San Suu Kyi draws upon previously untapped testimony and fresh revelations to tell the story of a woman whose bravery and determination have captivated people around the globe. Celebrated today as one of the world's greatest exponents of non-violent political defiance since Mahatma Gandhi, she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize only four years after her first experience of politics.

In April 1988, Suu Kyi returned from Britain to Burma to nurse her sick mother but, within six months, found herself the unchallenged leader of the largest popular revolt in the history of Burma. When the party she co-founded won a landslide victory in Burma's first free elections for thirty years, she was already under house arrest and barred from taking office by the military junta.

Since then, 'The Lady' has set about transforming her country ethically as well as politically, displaying dazzling courage in the process. Under house arrest for 15 of the previous 20 years, she has come close to being killed by her political enemies and her commitment to peaceful revolution has come at extreme personal cost.

In November 2010, after fraudulent elections in which she played no part, Suu Kyi was again freed. She was greeted by ecstatic crowds but only time will tell what role this remarkable woman will have in the future of her country.

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The Lady And The Peacock: The Life of Aung San Suu Kyi of Burma + The Lady [DVD] (2011) + Letters From Burma
Price For All Three: 17.63

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  • The Lady [DVD] (2011) 4.35
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Product details

  • Paperback: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Rider (14 Jun 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 184604250X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1846042508
  • Product Dimensions: 19.6 x 12.6 x 3.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 118,190 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


"The most comprehensive, accessible, honest and fair biography of Aung San Suu Kyi to date, blowing away all previous efforts." (Benedict Rogers, author of Than Shwe: Unmasking Burma's Tyrant.)

"What a gift to our world and what a splendid telling of [Aung San Suu Kyi's life]. We are deeply indebted to Peter Popham for such a superb account." (Archbishop Desmond Tutu)

"Sensitive and moving" (Sunday Times)

"A challenging, important biography" (Scotsman)

"The definitive and superbly written account of one of the most intriguing and admirable political and moral figures of our times." (Pankaj Mishra, author of From the Ruins of Empire)

Book Description

The definitive biography of Aung San Suu Kyi, Burma's pro-democracy leader

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Lady in 3D 12 Nov 2011
Aung San Suu Kyi was elected by a clear majority of the Burmese people to rule her country. The daughter of an enduring Burmese hero, she felt a duty to serve those people, but more than 20 years on she has yet to assume power.

Instead, a succession of self-serving military leaders have ruled Burma illegitimately while keeping ASSK under house arrest for most of those two decades. She could have left the country, but understood that if she did, she would never be allowed back. Staying in her prison was the only way in which she could serve those who continued to idolise her, but this meant sacrificing not only her freedom but her family.

Recently, the military junta has staged phoney elections. It has freed ASSK and a small proportion of its political prisoners in an effort to persuade the world that it has changed its spots. Tired of being a pariah state, its resources have been squandered and it knows there are those outside keen to engage with (and make money from) Burma given the right pretext.

Aung San Suu Kyi has to decide how to play this difficult situation, and it's at this pivotal point that what is by far the best book to date about this fascinating Nobel Peace Prize-winner has been published. I have yawned through worthy but dry biographies of the Lady in the past, but this one just kept me turning the pages. For the first time she emerges as a rounded, flesh-and-blood personality, rather than the remote, almost inexplicable ice goddess depicted before.

This process is certainly helped by Peter Popham's access to the vivid campaign-trail diaries of ASSK's former assistant Ma Thengi, but that's only part of it.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The human touch 23 Nov 2011
Popham's biography of Aung San Suu Kyi is a piece of well-written and carefully crafted research with interviews from the people around her who not only understand her actions, but many of the reasons behind them. These interviews help this biography steal a march on countless predecessors, which - whilst historically and factually accurate - are often anaemic without this human touch.

As always, Suu herself remains forever enigmatic, but that is part of the challenge faced for every biographer. Popham uses his extensive interviews to shed light on the woman trapped within the icon.

I found that some of the details that the author reveals of her earlier "solid and safe and decent" life in Oxford quaintly endearing - when her dreams, whilst doing the washing up, stretched no further than the creditable ambition of launching a chain of public libraries across Burma.

Much has changed in Suu's life since that time, but Popham helps us make sense of it on a much more personal level, which is high praise indeed for any biography on this remarkable lady's life.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
I enjoyed this book and would recommend it to people who have an interest in Burma or in non violent struggle. I did however find the book hard going at times and often wondered at the value of some of the content. The journalistic style is informative and although I have read a lot about Burma and visited the country just over a year ago I found myself sometimes confused about where the author was leading me. He is clearly a devoted fan of Aung San Suu Kyi, as am I, but I felt this sometimes got in the way of objective research and analysis as well as the telling of the story, especially the impact of the political naivety which was almost inevitably shown in Daw Suu and most, if not all, of her followers in the early days. I wanted to know more about the obvious corruption that underpins the Juntas control and also how democratic nations like India, Thailand and Singapore justify their complicity but those angles were missing. The narrative is engaging and I now understand better the emotional pull that Daw Suu responded to by staying in Burma though the book suffers from her understandable, and well explained, lack of involvement in its development. The treatment of Ma Thanegi made me feel rather uncomfortable and at times it felt as if she was being cast out as a spy on little evidence for daring to differ with Daw Suu's approach to sanctions. I began to wonder if it was somehow not permitted to hold a different view within the ranks of those around Daw Suu and the book owes itself the duty to be more careful and more exploratory about this interesting aspect of the struggle for the right form of democracy for Burma. That said, I found the book informative, at times engaging and well worth the investment of time it took me to plough through its pages. I will certainly read it again and will hopefully find it an easier read on second pass.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Too creative 26 Mar 2012
I have read half the book so far and wonder if I want to continue.

Popham's description of Aung San Suu Kyi's time in England (Oxford and London) features far more creativity than there should be in a biography, which makes me naturally suspicious about the soundness of the rest of the work. I'm sure the main story-line is all right but it seems that the style is intended to be readable rather than accurate.

Popham seems to make the occasional sweeping assessment without it being clear what the basis is, I feel sure that he has doctored some of the quotes and his description of The Lady and Michael Aris as a young couple ... `their differences of race and upbringing dissolved in the hot sun of their love for one another; ...' is absolutely cringeworthy.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
I really enjoyed this book, but like a previous reviewer I did find certain parts of the book heavy going. Read more
Published 2 months ago by bibliophile
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful book. Gives a very in depth view of the very complicated...
Having recently visited Burma for the first time this book filled in a lot of the gaps. Really got to know Suu Kyi as well. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Caroline Corbould
5.0 out of 5 stars Fast shipping
Fast shipping...information provides is accurate..Love the book really wanted a copy of this for a long time..Thank you so mch!
Published 5 months ago by arjun
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful
This is a beautiful piece to read. It shows the strength of this wonderful woman who is still doing everything she can in Burma. Such an inspirational woman.
Published 9 months ago by Miss Rebecca Jane Grant
5.0 out of 5 stars Very Interesting
A really interesting read. The engaging subject matter obviously helps. This is a detailed, thoughtful biography of an inspirational woman.
Published 13 months ago by Mary Roulston
5.0 out of 5 stars The Definitive Biography of Aung San Suu Kyi
How did Aung San Suu Kyi become one of the world's most admired figures, an advocate of Gandhian-style nonviolent opposition to the radical Socialist tyrannical military... Read more
Published 14 months ago by John Kwok
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating Biography
I found this book extremely interesting and could barely put it down. It gives a good insight not only into Aung San Suu Kyi but into the history and politics of Burma. Read more
Published 16 months ago by Mrs C.
5.0 out of 5 stars the lady and the peacock
Having visited burma on at least four occasions I am very interested in the history of Aung San Suu Kyi and her father
Published 18 months ago by jeanne kelly
5.0 out of 5 stars The lady and the peacock
Bringing the story of Burma as up to date as a book ever can, this sets the backdrop to the new turmoil that the new burmese government must tackle if it's good intentions are to... Read more
Published 20 months ago by karenrose
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent
Excellent, prompt service and a very interesting book on a very interesting woman. This is wet - I HAVE NO INTENTION OF DISCUSSING AN "EXPERIENCE"
Published 23 months ago by NO
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