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Perfect Hostage: A Life of Aung San Suu Kyi, Burma's Prisoner of Conscienceby Justin Wintle
Synopses & Reviews
Burma is a country where, as one senior UN official puts it, "just to turn your head can mean imprisonment or death." Aung San Suu Kyi is considered to be Burma's best hope for freedom, and, because of her unwavering commitment to nonviolent resistance to the country's brutal military junta, she has been under house arrest since 1989. Elected Prime Minister, she was prevented from taking office, but despite failing health, vilification at the hands of the Burmese media, and actual imprisonment in one of the world's most appalling jails, Suu Kyi has persevered in a campaign of nonviolent protest as unflagging as those of Gandhi, King, and Mandela, which earned her the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991. In Perfect Hostage, the most thorough biography of Suu Kyi to date, Justin Wintle tells both the story of the Burmese people and the story of an ordinary person who became a hero.
"She's my hero."--Bono
"In physical stature she is petite and elegant, but in moral stature she is a giant."--Archbishop Desmond Tutu, 1984 Nobel Peace Prize Recipient
"It is time for all respectable members of the international community to put weight behind their words and take active measures to secure the freedom of Aung San Suu Kyi and the Burmese people."--Senator John McCain
"Nobel Peace laureate Suu Kyi seems both the least likely and the most natural person to become 'the world's best-known prisoner of conscience,' and Wintle's thoroughly engrossing book magnificently illustrates both sides of this elusive yet very public figure. Her education at Oxford and self-effacing demeanor did not prime her for the life of a dissident. Behind her reserve and English veneer, however, was a resolutely stubborn streak and a family life steeped in politics. Wintle's research has been prodigious; he brings encyclopedic knowledge of just about anything that can be linked to Suu Kyi. In rendering his subject, he weaves in Burmese history and folklore, Buddhism, Indian politics and portraits of Suu Kyi's intimates and enemies; that he delivers all this in an absorbing fashion is a marvel. Entertaining and instructive, charming and persuasive, Wintle mingles sober history and gossipy chat. Obscure political in-fighting is made comprehensible; unfamiliar colonial history is made accessible. Still, Wintle (Romancing Vietnam; Furious Interiors) can skewer in a sentence ('About Sanjay [Gandhi] there was something palpably uncouth, while the vainglorious Rajiv [Gandhi] was lacking in intelligence'). Suu Kyi's developing political activism, her house arrests, her honors are delineated in draftsman's detail that Wintle manages to keep vibrant. He is a biographer smitten with his subject, who cares enough to note the smallest detail, such as that Suu Kyi prefers Simenon's Maigret to Christie's Poirot. In making the reader care about the smallest things, Wintle makes the reader really care about the big thing — that 'the world's best-known prisoner of conscience' is not free. (Apr.) " Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
Book News Annotation:
This is a biography of Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi, the Burmese opposition leader held under house arrest by the military junta currently in charge of Burma (Myanmar). The first half of the biography largely consists of a historical overview of the country's history and the biography of Aung San, Aung San Suu Kyi's father, the revolutionary nationalist general who was assassinated six months before the independence of Burma, both valuable for those less familiar with the political context and legacy that have shaped Aung San Suu Kyi and her role in Burmese society. Annotation ©2008 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
A biography of Aung San Suu Kyi, one of the world's most renowned freedom fighters and advocates of nonviolence, and the figurehead for Burma's struggle for democracy. The recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, she has dedicated her life to helping her country.
"The trouble is that I know too much."--Aung San Suu Kyi
About the Author
Justin Wintle has a degree in Modern History from Oxford. He is the author of Perfect Hostage, Romancing Vietnam, The Vietnam Wars, Furious Interiors, and the Rough Guide histories of China, Islam, and Spain. He is a contributor to the Financial Times, The Sunday Times, and The Independent.
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