The Lady and the Peacock: The Life of Aung San Suu Kyi of Burma

Richard Lloyd Parry writes:

Peter Popham’s life of Aung San Suu Kyi is gripping, partisan and emotional, a welcome complement to the only other serious biography in English, Justin Wintle’s assiduously comprehensive Perfect Hostage. It contains fascinating new material and conveys, better than any other account, the stirring drama of her confrontations with the junta. But perhaps the most interesting thing about it is its timing. It was delivered to the publishers in the summer of 2011, just as Burma’s changes were invisibly getting underway. ‘Her intercourse with the rulers of the country has been almost non-existent,’ Popham writes, ‘and there is little prospect of that changing.’ Between final proofs and publication, everything changed. And yet what might have been fatally bad luck becomes the book’s great strength. The Lady and the Peacock is an essential record of the struggle for democracy in Burma before the mysteries and promise of the Thein Sein era: a reminder of the 49 long years that preceded eight breathless months of reform.

(LRB 26 April 2012)

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