Biographies of living people during rapidly changing times have to be difficult for the person who is the subject, the author, and sometimes even the readers But author Peter Popham s The Lady and the Peacock has been done well, and his extensive experience as a journalist shows through The black white dust jacket cover photo by Joachim Ladefoged, taken her house arrest back 1998, offers a tiny preview of what s to be found here as we see her riveting eyes, looking out at us.The Lady and the Peacock the final chapters are yet to be writtenThere are few in the world today who draw the esteem and respect that Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi does considering her almost lifelong efforts concerning the struggle for democracy as an almost iconic figurehead Author Popham brings the reader through Burma s recent history, offering the political background behind the country, Suu Kyi s family and father, Aung San, who founded the modern Burmese army and negotiated Burma s independence from the British Empire in 1947 He was assassinated by rivals in the same year, when Suu Kyi was two years old.Peter Popham takes us to where Suu Kyi seemed destined to travel, which she did She grew up in India, where her mother served as ambassador, studied in the UK at Oxford, and worked for three years at the UN in New York Working for UN Secretary General U Thant, she also did volunteer work at New York City s Belleview Hospital She married author and scholar Michael Aris in 1972, whom she had met while they were in college After spending a year in Bhutan, they established themselves in North Oxford in the UK, where they raised their two sons, Alexander and Kim During this time, he did postgrad studies at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London and obtained a PhD in Tibetan literature in 1978.But in 1988, Aung San Suu Kyi returned from Britain to Burma to nurse her sick mother, and within six months, found herself to be the unchallenged leader of the largest popular revolt in her country s history, going from being an collegiate mother in Oxford to a nationally and then a recognized political leader around the world.When the National League for Democracy NLD party she co founded won a victory in Burma s first free elections for thirty years, winning 392 out of a total 489 seats 80% of the seats, a true landslide But the military refused to recognize their right to take office, and responded by imprisoning party members and supporters Suu Kyi was herself already under house arrest and barred from taking office by the military junta And it was during this inconceivably painful period of seclusion that she fell back on her Buddhist faith and meditation.National League for Democracy NLD peacock logoOver the past two decades, she suffered for a total of fifteen years under house arrest, and at a terrible personal toll When she learned that her husband had been diagnosed with terminal cancer in 1999, the Burmese regime refused to grant him a visa to visit her She knew that if she went to see him in the UK she would not be allowed back into Burma again, and as a result, the couple was never able to say their final farewells to each other.The words of Ma Thanegi, a Burmese writer and artist who became Aung San Suu Kyi s personal aide during the lead up to the elections of 1990, play heavily here, as extracts from her diaries are reproduced in this book Through her words we are offered a human view of the very private Aung San Suu Kyi We see a woman who could gleefully sing old 1950s hits, and who played the board game Monopoly with such intensity that she and her husband finally agreed to stop playing together to prevent squabbles.Other extracts show Suu Kyi s bravery standing up to the Burmese Army, along with her annoyances with the challenges and hardships of being on the road in Burma We see her frustrations while dealing with older established politicians in Burma, some of whom appeared to be sincerely committed to working together to bring change to Burma, but in actual practice were driven solely by their own ambitions.There are things that stand out in this book, such as the 45 black white photos of Aung San Suu Kyi, her family, and those who influenced her life These include images from her youth, her college, the house in Rangoon where she was detained for than fifteen years, members of the Myanmar junta, her NLD party compatriots, and a final one with Hillary Clinton during her visit to Suu Kyi s home in December 2011 Before the prologue, there s a map of Burma, showing the adjacent countries and with an inset of Rangoon All of these offer us visual understanding into her life and surroundings.The author gives us some good insight into Suu Kyi character, her sometimes irreverent sense of humor, her sense of traditions, her moral commitment, her alleged stubbornness and much Yet there s a two dimensional feel to all of this, a detached style of writing to all of it In many parts the book reads like a novel, making it easy to understand how and why the military junta has been able to sustain its power, but also how Suu Kyi and her colleagues were able to effectively provide a powerful alternative to the generals On the other hand, there are sections where it seems to bog down, where we become immersed in too much detail to the point of distraction.Though there s often an almost ponderous feel to this book, author Peter Popham provides us with an excellent glossary of Burmese terms in the back of the book, a well done index, a list of names with explanations of the roles of the people, and a thorough list of books and references for further reading.Suu Kyi s 1991 book Freedom from Fear describes Burma s political, intellectual and literary history in her own words, along with her essay, My Father, a biographical portrait of the father of modern Burma, and contains an introduction by her late husband, Michael Aris But it is her other work, Letters from Burma , where she talks about her country, her people, and about herself in this collection of essays written in the mid 1990 s for a Japanese newspaper Through her own words we see the misfortunes of her people, in the most natural and unruffled way, as if she was narrating about everyday life.Author Popham s The Lady and the Peacock The Life of Aung San Suu Kyi cannot be described as spellbinding, nor is it easy to get through in many places But it s thorough journalism, and as an introduction for those wanting to learn about Burma and Aung San Suu Kyi, it s a solid 4 star read, worthwhile especially for those who only know of Suu Kyi through television clips and news snippets.In November 2010, after the duplicitous elections in which she played no part, Suu Kyi was again freed She was greeted by jubilant crowds, but only time will tell what role this extraordinary woman will have in the future of her beloved country The Lady and the Peacock tells this story of Aung San Suu Kyi and her ongoing struggle for democracy, but it s a story that remains to be fully told.Note this review appeared earlier on.com in a slightly different format.7 26 2012 The Lady and the Peacock A solid 3.5 stars, bumped up to 4 Very well researched and clearly written Popham is a journalist and knows how to tell a story And what a story it is This book goes up to the end of 2010, and Popham has now written a second volume to bring the story up to the present I look forward to reading it.If you want to learn what made Aung San Suu Kyi the extraordinary, truly charismatic and unbelievably brave woman that she is, I recommend this book. This was a really good comprehensive overview of Aung San Suu Kyi s life and recent Burmese history, neither of which I knew very much about going in democracy activist, Nobel Peace Prize winner, house arrest, repressive You could ve fit my knowledge on the back of a generous matchbook The book is incredibly readable, which is at least partly due to my lack of prior knowledge previously unknown history is basically just a story, so the plot kept me hooked It feels complete and balanced, and is very well researched I highly recommend the book, just to get that out of the way before the next part of my review.I have a few quibbles Popham takes constant, sometimes confusing liberty with the timeline Chapters start in 1995, swing back to 1988, jump ahead to 2002, then he ll say November or something and you re supposed to realize that you re back in 1995 The first time he mentions her kids, it s in a paragraph about how she and her husband conducted an epistolary courtship, and makes next to no sense they exchanged hundreds of letters the family met for holidays in India What family Did they get married What year is it The family angle is also noticeably lacking he doesn t interview either of her sons or any of her in laws , or mention what happened when she got to see them again after her last stint under house arrest If that s because they didn t want to be interviewed for an unauthorized biography, then say so It felt like a real gap in the coverage.Lastly, it seemed like he was sucking up to Thien Sien in the Afterword It really rubbed me the wrong way to hear him call this guy courageous and intelligent he s the one who sicced the military on the monks during the Saffron Revolution a misnomer, I now know, but still a recognizable point of reference.BUT I think that the chronological liberties might have been warranted necessary to explain certain subplots undercurrents, and to make the book readable The first couple of parts give a mile high overview of Suu s life from 1960 1988, and then he doubles back to give a in depth look, and though that was not linear, I thought it was a useful device though maybe someone with prior knowledge would be bothered He uses and cites to a LOT of source material, from newspaper reports to personal diaries to every other biography or article ever written about her So even if it sometimes felt like a compendium, I liked the feeling that I was getting a real comprehensive understanding of the subject matter His perspective is compassionate toward, even defensive of Suu and her choices, but I feel like my own would have been even without the slight slant, so I wasn t bothered Obnoxious white person compliment I feel like it would have been pretty easy for me to get lost in the names, especially because there are a few that are very common and crop up in a lot of main characters names Aung, Oo, U, etc , but he had a deft hand at realizing when it had been a while since a person had been mentioned and reminding you with a descriptor which person this is Perhaps this is a compliment to the editor.If you have any interest in Burmese history current events or Aung San Suu Kyi, read this It s great. This is a stirring if a bit detached biography of Aung San Suu Kyi As she currently runs for office with newly arranged elections in Myanmar, her country has been difficult and taken a toll on her life Aung San Suu Kyi was born after World War II as her father was negotiating liberation from Great Britain At age 3, her father Aung San was assassinated by rivals one year before the freedom he had been fighting for was reality Eventually Aung San Suu Kyi and her older brothers with their mother left for India where she grew up in privileged boarding schools She was able to see how Mahatma Gandhi led the Indian people to freedom with Neru and other supporters Later she moved to Britain where she attended Oxford, married a British husband and had two children Aung San Suu Kyi never lost her Burmese language or culture because she spoke it with her family and visited there yearly Eventually her mother returned to live there She was aware of the turmoil and military rule of SLORC but promised not to get involved in government in order to visit In 1988, the junta announced elections and Aung San Suu Kyi returned to care for her mother She eventually announced plans to form a party Winning elections by a landslide the junta detained her and tried to force her to leave Her children went back to Britain and were not allowed back Her husband had to leave From 1990 to 1995, she was detained under house arrest She was freed and allowed to travel through Rangoon She constantly tried to move freely through the country but was prevented In 1996, her motorcade was attacked and there was an attempt to assassinate her 200 followers died but she survived The book details all major aspects of Aung San s life but because of the reluctance of Aung San to favor biographers, the author has only a limited sense of her as a person Most of the 2000s, she was under severe detention where very few saw or spoke to her She was suddenly released in 2011 and even the Secretary of State has been able to see her Myanmar has pledged to change. 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 PoliticsIn April , 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 Her Country S History 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 JuntaSince Then, The Lady Has Set About Transforming Her Country Ethically As Well As Politically, Displaying Dazzling Courage In The Process Under House Arrest For Of The Previous Years, She Has Come Close To Being Killed By Her Political Enemies And Her Commitment To Peaceful Revolution Has Come At Extreme Personal CostIn November , 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 There is no denying that Aung San Suu Kyi is a remarkable person and there is a fair amount of interesting detail But the author has at times rather obscured this with gushing as her delicate beauty and the incessant references to her fringe and yes one of the chapters of the book is called Super woman By all means in journalism one has to support one s case and to represent what you write with facts and to always have catchy headings But is Peter Popham writing a book or a very one sided long article for some sensational newspaper I find Popham can t seem to distinguish between the two So much is at stake here The definition of democracy, how it is relevant to countries where the governor of the land was a king, a series of kings down through generations and not only that but a country that went from kingdom to being pressed into colonial yoke by some distant remote insipid monarch, George IV So does a transition from democracy work and can it What democracy would it be regardless of such a thing were possible Could it be like India as referenced in this book on than one occasion where voting takes place, parties put themselves forward and then the most corrupt takes office and as in other democratic countries in the world the poor get poorer and the rich get richer The history of Burma is very much a myriad of intrigues, battles fought, won and lost, dreams created and shattered and myth and legend is rampant Aung San came from a very obscure background, wasn t anyone much in school and then decided to take it upon himself with some cough cough others to free his people from the colonial yoke Which I must add for those living under the yolk there is nothing good from a colonial power Absolutely nothing America may have been a colony once, however, it was the First Nations and Black people that felt what it really meant to be brutalised and what it meant to be subservient to a foreign power The families that came on the Mayflower had no idea what it meant to be slaves to colonialists To say otherwise is an outright lie Having had past generations of my family in Burma as part of the invading force I can say without hesitation no good came of the British being in Burma So what of Aung San and his desire for an independent Burma There is the current mantra anybody is better than this guy well that isn t true You can t vote for someone just because they are not the guy in power right at this moment You need to know who you are dealing with before you invest something in that person As it was Aung San didn t know what he was dealing with when he signed up with the Japanese Japan may share the same part of the world and they were keen to broker a deal with Burma to rid Asia of the British, however, neighbours make strange bed fellows As history showed Japan wasn t interested in helping out Burma for independence, all empires are hungry for land and will grab it by any means necessary But it could be seen that Aung San was hopping between bed fellows to get what he wanted most, at any cost Up to a point he got it Burma became independent of both British interests and Japanese, however, that resulted in the death of Aung San By this time he had made himself a dynamic personality and like all leaders of movements, he was the one and only to be able to achieve what he did Aung San Suu Kyi has inherited that from her father Whether intentionally or not Popham writes frequently how the people of Burma see her as a reincarnation of a Bodhisattva She alone can save Burma through their eyes So what does that mean If she dies before her time or even if not there will surely be another vacuum in Burma History has shown that when many rely on one person and they die everything tumbles For many years all eyes were Burma and wondering who this woman was Popham has that she described herself once as an Oxford housewife No identity whatsoever, she was married to a house, somewhere in Oxford and had two children Then she comes to a realisation she was somebody s daughter when she is back in Burma A man she doesn t remember on a personal level, but a man that had many transformations of character by the people of the country and by the people that said they knew him best History won t really be able to tell us as yet really what sort of man he was Indeed between Peter Popham and other biographers we won t really know what sort of woman Aung San Suu Kyi is Has she only ever been a person caught by mere circumstance Or is she really power hungry anticipating to take Burma back to the older days of yore as the uncrowned queen of Burma After being held captive, in a sense, of house arrest for many years, where will she guide Burma Quite a few promising politicians have felt the need to make sacrifices on their principles Is she going to be one of them When you don t speak up against an injustice to a people, you are complicit by your silence The goal for many politicians is the bigger prize which is to mean getting into power But will it be too late then for honesty and integrity because by then of getting into power by courting the big shareholders in this instance Buddhists over Muslims who knows how many other situations will have risen that silence was acted on rather than words Despite Popham s best efforts there is no real halo over the Lady s head She is no super woman At the end of the day she is no human than anyone else before her or after We still cling to our idols, our celebrities, our demigods as of ancient times past Nor then should it have come as any surprise that American businesses were making deals with the regimes of Burma Which must be pointed out for accuracy sake communism and socialism are not the same things and shouldn t be banded about as such It s very easy to affix titles and names to oneself or a party that has absolutely nothing to do with the party or person s mandate The very notion that a party called the Conservatives would be interested in conversing things In reality that be furthest idea from the party s mandate Shouldn t we therefore despise anything to do with conservation because a party calls themselves Conservatives but are really sucking the life out of a country and its people But no most people would cry Of course not, they d say But when it comes down to communism and socialism, the root words here being commune meaning to get together and socialism meaning to be social, these words are despised by a great many people Most that don t even know what either communism is or socialism or the fact that both are different I do say for those that wish to disparage communism without fully understanding what it is beyond the legacies of Lenin and Stalin that according to many it was Communism to integrate black and white students into one school It was also Communism when in the dirty 30s when tenant farmers wanted a meager raise in their wages and were shot for their Communism And so this book while holds a lot of information it holds a lot that is not accurate information. Aung San Suu Kyi is a remarkable figure She is a peaceful fighter for her country s freedom, a winner of the Noble Peace Prize, and an inspiration to many around the globe who yearn for freedom from all sorts of oppressions She seems to be the rightful heir to some other giants of the non violent struggle in recent times, notably Marthin Luther King Jr and Mohandas Mahatma Gandhi She is equally admired for her determination and resilience, as well as the simple and unassuming charisma that she has exhibited over the course of almost quarter of a century of involvement in Burmese politics This is a very well written and detailed book about the life of Aung San Suu Kyi the Lady from the title and to the much lesser extent about the Burmese pro democracy party that she is heading the peacock The book covers some of the lesser known aspects of Suu Kyi s life, including parts of her private life that have been hinted at in the media but have in large part remained hidden In fact, it s the personal aspects of her struggle that I find the most heart rending and painful to read about The sacrifice of separation form her family and the inability to be at her husband s side during his dying days would have been too much to bear for anyone Even though Suu Kyi is by any account a heroic figure, it remains unclear how effective her tactics have been in bringing the change and reform to Burma Popham paints a very sympathetic picture of her political engagement, but after reading this book I am left feeling that Suu Kyi might lack the savvy and political shrewdness necessary to be an effective agent of change However, this is all very speculative as the political situation in Burma can often defy all rational expectations Even though this is a very interesting and readable book, it is not without a couple of shortcomings For one, Suu Kyi herself, primarily due to her severe isolation, been able to contribute much direct material for a biography of this kind Most of the material on which the book was based comes from second and third hand sources Further, the arrangement of the material does not follow a strictly linear progression in time The narrative jumps back and forth a couple of times, which can be mildly annoying Overall, I really liked this book but I really hope that one day Suu Kyi will be able to write an autobiography and one with a very happy ending despite all the travails she had gone through. The Definitive Biography of Aung San Suu KyiHow 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 dictatorship that has ruled Burma for decades In Peter Popham s definitive biography of her, The Lady and The Peacock The Life of Aung San Suu Kyi , he describes how a shy, academically oriented daughter The Lady of Burma s George Washington or Simon Bolivar , Aung San, would become a living symbol of the democratic aspirations of her fellow Burmans He takes us on a compelling, riveting journey spanning decades, from her birth to the present, noting how Aung San Suu Kyi was greatly influenced by the British oriented education she received in India and in Great Britain the latter at one of Oxford University s newer colleges and realizing that she had an obligation to her late father and her mother who was Burma s ambassador to India during much of Suu Kyi s youth in affirming the democratic aspirations of her people, even as she spent years away from Burma residing in India, Great Britain and the United States Popham s book is also an excellent account of the rise and fall of The Peacock , the National League of Democracy the political party created by Suu Kyi and several other notable Burmese dissidents in which many of its leading figures have been imprisoned or forced into exile by the Burmese government In other words, Popham has written an important, quite insightful, account of modern Burmese history as seen through the eyes of Suu Kyi and her colleagues in the National League of Democracy I salute Popham for giving us a most comprehensive account on the life and career of a person whose nonviolent opposition towards her government continues to inspire many across the globe. Walaupun jelas favoritism penulis terhadap Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, saya kira buku ini sangat relevan untuk sesiapa yang ingin tahu kisah hidup Suu Kyi secara terperinci Dari satu aspek yang lain, sebagai seorang rakyat Malaysia, saya berasa bangga di atas penglibatan dan peranan Tan Sri Razali Ismail wakil UN ketika itu , di dalam pembebasan Suu Kyi sewaktu ditahan di penjara Insein dan house arrest pada tahun 2002. There are many things about Aung San Suu Kyi s life which I found fascinating and it s extraordinary to observe her early life No real memories of her father, General Aung San, who was assassinated when she was two years of age A first class early education and a third class Oxford degree, the comforts and duties of a suburban and family life, and a twist of fate which forged a bond of love and trust with her people leading to a house arrest which lasted 15 of 20 years which reconnected her to her Buddhist faith There began a strict regime which included vipassana meditation based on the Theravada Buddhist tradition, thanks to a book her husband, Michael Aris, and Oxford Don, gifted her on those rare last few happy days spent together before her years of house arrest You will be attacked and reviled for engaging in honest politics said a ninety one year old teacher she met in her father s hometown in central Burma after her release from detention in 1995, But you must persevere Lay down an investment in suffering and you will gain bliss Her old friend says she may die bearing witness, but even if she dies, what she is doing will continue to resonate into the future My actions says the teacher, are my only true belongings This book was conceived in 2006, after Aung San Suu Kyi disappeared into detention in July 1989, with no end in sight Things have changed for Daw Suu since her release from house arrest on 13 November, 2010, and having recently returned from Myanmar, Peter Popham s The Lady and the Peacock helped me to understand Aung San Suu Kyi s strong views about her country, about right and wrong, and why she s taken a strong stance on non violence and metta lovingkindness , which people say may have worked for Gandhi and the Congress, but they were up against the Raj and its tender conscience, a long way from home Challenging the Burmese Army was a different matter Resorting to non violence tactics , wrote Thant Myint U she tried to provoke the government But she wasn t facing the Raj of the 1930s or the Johnson administration of the 1960s These were tough men who played a very different game Unlike the British, Burma s generals were never ready to quit Burma While under house arrest, the party she co founded, The National League for Democracy NLD , won a landslide victory while she was already in detention and barred from taking office by the military junta In the quest for democracy, That woman , as General Ne Win referred to her, has endured an extreme personal loss towards her commitment to peaceful revolution but her great gift to her country is that she threw open the windows to the outside world At the same time she also opened the windows of the world to Burma.