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The Lady And The Peacock: The Life of Aung San Suu Kyi of Burma by [Popham, Peter]
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The Lady And The Peacock: The Life of Aung San Suu Kyi of Burma Kindle Edition

4.7 out of 5 stars 29 customer reviews

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Length: 464 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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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, East Asia Team Leader at Christian Solidarity Worldwide and author of Than Shwe: Unmasking Burma’s Tyrant.)

"Masterly ... superb" (Archbishop Desmond Tutu)

"Highly readable...a fresh approach" (Evening Standard)

"Sensitive and moving" (Jon Swain Sunday Times)

Book Description

The definitive biography of Aung San Suu Kyi, Burma's pro-democracy leader, now the subject of Luc Besson's film, 'The Lady'

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 3460 KB
  • Print Length: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Ebury Digital (3 Nov. 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 184604250X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1846042508
  • ASIN: B005LPE456
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars 29 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #199,350 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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Format: Hardcover
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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Format: Hardcover
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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Format: Hardcover
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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By Hande Z TOP 500 REVIEWER on 7 Nov. 2011
Format: Hardcover
Three major biographies were published in the last quarter of 2011 - "Steve Jobs" by Walter Isaacson, "Deng Xiaoping" by Ezra Vogel, and "The Life of Aung San Suu Kyi". The first concerns a man who delivered access to knowledge as well as nonsense into the palms of virtually everyone on earth. The second transformed a giant country of peasants into savvy businessmen who now owns assets beyond the Great Wall. Who would have imagined during the years of Mao Tze Tung that "Volvo" would have become a Chinese owned company? Against these two massive figures in history, where can one fit the slim, demure woman from Burma?

For someone who spent 15 out of 21 years under detention of one sort or another during the modern era of Burma (an ironic term as we shall see) from 1989 to 2010, there would have been little to write about. As Popham himself wrote, "Aung San Suu Kyi's life tends to be described in a one-dimensional manner, as the story of a courageous woman who challenged a military junta and lost." Furthermore, she was often criticized as a woman who forsook her family for politics, and for running a political fight with no political acumen. She has been perceived as an obstinate person whose intransigence let her followers down. She who, in the 1990 elections found that she had almost the entire nation behind her and yet could not oust the small, bullying, corrupt military Junta. It was the kind of elections the Junta had hoped, in the words of Samir Amin, "to change everything so that nothing changes".

Popham tries to show in this book that the life of Aung San Suu Kyi is much more complex and instructive than the superficial understanding the uninformed might have of her.
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