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

3.71 of 5 stars 3.71  ·  rating details  ·  290 ratings  ·  51 reviews
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 onl ...more
Paperback, 480 pages
Published November 3rd 2011 by Rider
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Community Reviews

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John
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 Lady an
...more
Vicki
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 balanc ...more
Bojan Tunguz
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 s ...more
John
The Definitive Biography of Aung San Suu Kyi

How 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
...more
Lynn
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 mothe ...more
Allison
This should have been awesome, but the author couldn't decide if it was a biography of Suu, a biography of her movement, or a general discussion of recent (post-WWII) Burmese history. Plus, the book was SOOO biased in a pro-NLD way. I mean, no one supports the junta, but it was so over the top as to be distracting. The book was also very disorganized and it made it tough to follow the chronology.

Apparently there are few biographies to choose from on Suu, so at least I've read one.
Andrea Stoeckel
Stars still not registering. 4 stars

[N B: As a theologian, an international news junqie and pacifist, I have spent many years reading about/ praying for Aun Sang Suu Kyi. Fir many years I was a subscriber to her newsletter, first in English and after her final release, in Spanish(never did figure out why that happened but it caused me to unsubscribe). Her own writing is sparse but there have been a small number of biographies written about her]

Ang San Suu Kyi, born as the only daughter of three
...more
Patricia
Unfortunately, I did not actually finish this book. Although it was interesting and I learned a lot about Aung San Suu Kyi, I didn't seem to have enough uninterrupted time to really absorb all the history and politics of Burma that it contained. I did make an effort to skim through it and read about some of the pivotal points of her life. I hope to go back to it some day and finish it.
Michael Griswold
Burma or Myanmar is one of the most reclusive places on the face of the earth, until perhaps most recent times. The scholarly sources on Burma/Myanmar are somewhat on the thin side, so I was really excited to get my hands on a biography of Burma/Myanmar's most famous political figure, despite having never held political office, Aung San Suu Kyi. The narrative of Aung San Suu Kyi is inseparable from the larger history of Burma since independence because her father Aung San is the father of the in ...more
Chris Craddock
Burma Shave

A long time ago there used to be billboards for a brand of shaving cream called Burma Shave. It was almost a road game for kids, like finding license plates for all 48 states and naming the State Capitols. There would be a series of four signs separated by a mile or so-- each a line in a little poem:

In this world

Of toil and sin

Your head grows bald

But not your chin!
~Burma Shave

Tom Waits even wrote a song where the signs were a metaphor for that restless feeling of constantly wanting
...more
Jess Macneil
I've just put this book down and find I'm missing it already! It is a gripping read that provides not only a lot of historical information about a fascinating subject, but also great insight into the life, circumstances, personal choices, etc of an incredible person. This book kept me uplifted at a time when I needed some cheering up - even though the subject of Burmese politics is bleak (to say the least), I found reading about Aung San Suu Kyi - her sheer strength and beauty - profoundly inspi ...more
Margarita
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 ...more
Cheryl
The subject of this book is an amazing person. It was not a book I could read quickly, and I guess that is good. The Burmese names are a little difficult.
Certain parts of the book appealed to me more than others. I enjoyed very much learning about her life in England, her marriage and living with her husband and children in various places. Her father was assassinated when she was two years old and she came pretty close herself. She said that power does not necessarily corrupt but fear of losing
...more
Pauline
Elegant, beautiful and detained for more than twenty years: most people don’t know how to pronounce her name, but she is by far the most famous woman politician in the world, never to have held office. She challenged the army dictator and won elections that were ignored, but as Popham remarks, ‘he had the gun and she had only flowers to throw’.
Popham paints a picture of Suu, not with blind admiration, but from a balanced, thoroughly researched viewpoint, even though Suu does not officially endor
...more
dryope
This book has in it the biggest hump known to mankind. In 1989 there was this almost one year stretch of Aung San Suu Kyi traveling around Burma, giving speeches and being insanely popular. It was all basically the same every damn day. But instead of making this into a short, sweet chapter about her success, the general mood of the people and some added anecdotes, Popham turns this into 100+ pages of telling us what colors she wore each day, what she had for breakfast each day and when exactly h ...more
Mainlinebooker
For an overview of Burmese history and to understand the present machinations , this book is a go to encyclopedia. From Aung San Suu Kyi's formative years until 2011 one begins to make sense of this country's history. However, it is highly disorganized and skips around in history only to backtrack time and time again making it difficult to follow the chronology. A better editing job would have made this a superb read.
Satia
A very interesting look at the life of Aung San Suu Kyi.

For more, read my full review here.
Tse-Kwang

I have read several books on Myanmar (Burma) and Aung San Suu Kyii and this is perhaps the best.
Peter Popham has crafted the book so well that it reads like a novel which is difficult to put down.
Congratulations to Peter Popham

What is particularly interesting and revealed for the first time , is the information based on the diary notes of Daw Suu Kyii's friend who documented the Nobel Prize Laureate's journey to the countryside when she was released.
Inspired by this book , I have continued "my e
...more
Mindy
It's long but thorough and gives you a very good look at the twisted Myanmar political history. After living here for some time I sometimes forget how harsh it was just 5 years ago. Thank goodness for change. This is a great intro to Myanmar politics.
glenn toering-boyes
This is an incredibly informative book about the amazing person of Aung San Suu Kyi, along with valuable insight into the recent history of Myanmar. Highly, highly recommended!!

Having moved to Yangon (Rangoon), Myanmar (Burma) at the end of the summer 2013, it was a thrill for me personally to, hours after arriving in Yangon, drive past her home where she spent so many years in exile. It would be a dream come true to see her in person while living here during the next 3 years.
Cassandra
Interesting, but the storytelling was disjointed and hard to follow at times (jumping back and forth between decades and key turning points without clear logic or explanation). This book is, however, a good entry point for anyone wanting to understand the phenomenon of Aung San Suu Kyi and the historical, social, political, and religious context that she has been working to create democracy in.
Diane C.
Know the basic facts about the life of Aung San Suu Kyi and Myanmar, but interested in learning more? This is a great, journalistic style biography by a correspondent who has spent many years sneaking in and out of Burma to report on political life there.

Not dense, dry and boring and while not an intimate Jackie O sort of portrait, one does get to know the Lady much better.
Mark Robertson
This definitive biography is also a great read, though I agree with some of the other reader comments that the first section about her campaign travels in '88 can be slow and repetitive at times. It picks up after that to become a very nuanced portrait of a great leader, and an exploration of the nature of moral leadership and non-violent resistance. Very inspiring.
Kapu Patel
At first I thought the book was a bit too detailed and was a difficult read but towards the end i understood why Popham chose to share the "unnecessary" details. This is the most favorable portrayal of Aung San Suu kyi that helps you understand the choices she made and her evolution as a leader. My understand of modern Burma was also enhanced.
Clare Gibson
Aung San Suu Kyi is a remarkable woman and I was very interested to learn more about her life. This is a very descriptive biography and contains an amazing level of detail, but at times it left me wanting to know less about the names of all the generals and fellow supporters she came into contact with, and more of the emotional story of her life.
Sashi
The glaring light of adversity reveals all the rainbow hues of the human character and brings out the true colors of people, particularly those who purport to be your friends - Aung San Su Kyi

Fear of losing power corrupts those who wield it and fear of the scourge of power corrupts those who are subject to it - Aung San Su Kyi
Cheryl
I found the first half of the book slow going. The frequent quotes from the journal of Ma Thenagi were tedious. However once I passed into the second half of the book, I felt the author's passion for the amazing life of Aung San Suu Kyi. A compelling read of one of the most important political figures of this century.
Chicca
This is the first and only Aung San Suu Kyi biography I have read so far. It was entirely illuminating in its combination of personal and political anecdotes. Since I just returned from Burma before starting this book, it provided a perfect explanation to many of the emotions I had felt and seen while there.
Allagappan
I've read about Suu-Kyi when I was a school kid. This book is brilliant. It has lot of first hand information about Suu-Kyi's campaigns and struggle.

Cons: It is not chronological - lot of time mixup around.
Pros: Diary stuff from Ma Thanegi (Suu's best friend who wrote about events everyday in her diary)
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