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The Lady and the Peacock: The Life of Aung San Suu Kyiby Peter Popham
Synopses & Reviews
Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi—known to the world as an icon for democracy and nonviolent dissent in oppressed Burma, and to her followers as simply “The Lady”—has recently returned to international headlines. Now, this major new biography offers essential reading at a moment when Burma, after decades of stagnation, is once again in flux.
Suu Kyi’s remarkable life begins with that of her father, Aung San. The architect of Burma’s independence, he was assassinated when she was only two. Suu Kyi grew up in India (where her mother served as ambassador), studied at Oxford, and worked for three years at the UN in New York. In 1972, she married Michael Aris, a British scholar. They had two sons, and for several years she lived as a self-described “housewife”—but she never forgot that she was the daughter of Burma’s national hero.
In April 1988, Suu Kyi returned to Burma to nurse her sick mother. Within six months, she was leading the largest popular revolt in the country’s history. She was put under house arrest by the regime, but her party won a landslide victory in the 1990 elections, which the regime refused to recognize. In 1991, still under arrest, she received the Nobel Peace Prize. Altogether, she has spent over fifteen years in detention and narrowly escaped assassination twice.
Peter Popham distills five years of research—including covert trips to Burma, meetings with Suu Kyi and her friends and family, and extracts from the unpublished diaries of her co-campaigner and former confidante Ma Thanegi—into this vivid portrait of Aung San Suu Kyi, illuminating her public successes and private sorrows, her intellect and enduring sense of humor, her commitment to peaceful revolution, and the extreme price she has paid for it.
"Popham (Tokyo: The City at the End of the World) paints a sympathetic and well-rounded portrait of Burmese dissident Aung San Suu Kyi in this timely biography. In 1988, Suu, daughter of Aung San, the man widely regarded as the founder of modern Burma, returned from Britain to her homeland to care for her elderly mother. Over the next six years, Suu — known to her fellow citizens as 'The Lady' — would rise to the fore of the country's largest popular revolution to democratize, receive the Nobel Peace Prize, and finally find herself consigned to house arrest by a military junta, an imprisonment that would last for 15 of the past 20 years. Drawing on secret trips to Burma, meetings with Suu, letters, diaries, interviews, and published materials, Popham tells of Suu's meteoric rise to 'the heart of the Burmese conundrum,' her unwavering quest for democracy, and her unwillingness to abandon her supporters and party, the National League for Democracy (whose flag features a fighting peacock). In addition to recounting Suu's remarkable life story, Popham, a foreign correspondent for The Independent, deftly outlines the political climate of the troubled nation, and shows how this revolutionary woman became a global symbol of democracy, resolve, and freedom. While outlining her honesty, perfectionism, and commitment to nonviolence, Popham deals gently with criticisms of her efforts, conceding that her greatest strength was not her political savvy, but her moral compass. Photos. (Apr. 1)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
The Lady and the Peacock charts Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi’s transformation to leader of the largest popular revolt in Burmese history, her fifteen years under house arrest, and her continuing work to change her country’s politics and ethics. Along with that, it details not only her courage, intellect, and strong principles, but also her flaws and personal struggles, making this the first biography to give a full picture of Suu Kyi as the human being—albeit the remarkable human being—that she is.
Suu Kyi is a celebrated political hero in a country long plagued by internal struggles, human rights violations, and rigid military regimes maintained by fraudulent elections. Recently released from over 15 years under house arrest, she is now poised on the cusp of political office—standing for a seat in Parliament on April 1st.
In writing this book, longtime foreign correspondent Peter Popham draws on five years of research, including several undercover visits to Burma and two meetings with Suu Kyi herself. He also includes intimate, revealing excerpts from Suu Kyi’s personal assistant’s diary, printed for the first time in The Lady and the Peacock. Today, as Suu Kyi stands on the brink of entering the political mainstream, this book reveals the secrets of her mental strength and her powerful bond with the people of Burma.
About the Author
Peter Popham is a foreign correspondent and feature writer for The Independent who has reported from South Asia, Italy and many other locales around the world. He is also the author of Tokyo: The City at the End of the World. Married with two children, Popham works from both Milan and England.
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