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

3.76  ·  Rating details ·  604 Ratings  ·  79 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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The Lady and the Peacock: The Life of Aung San Suu Kyi of Burma, by Peter Popham is a biography of the current State Councillor (akin to PM) of Myanmar, and a figure of great interest in the West. Suu Kyi is the daughter of the founder of Burma/Myanmar, Aung San, who united the country against British colonial rule, fought with the Japanese in WWII, and eventually came out as President of the country, only to be assassinated mere months into his term. After this, various military juntas ruled th ...more
Jul 19, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 a
Nov 30, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
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
Apr 22, 2015 rated it liked it
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 sid ...more
Jun 27, 2016 rated it really liked it
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.
Bojan Tunguz
Mar 21, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
May 11, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
❀ Hana
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.
Jan 28, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Sep 24, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography
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
Feb 23, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Aug 10, 2013 rated it it was ok
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.
Bob Newman
Nov 16, 2017 rated it it was ok
a case of "more is less"

Aung San Suu Kyi is no doubt an impressive woman with a will of iron and great moral fibre. She is certainly beautiful too. Her father, Aung San, seemed set to guide his country, Burma, into prosperous independence despite the severe ravages of WW II. He was assassinated when Suu Kyi was only two. Burma lapsed into ethnic wars, then a military dictatorship, both of which lasted till 1988, when dramatic events gave the world hope that Burma might shrug off its endless viol
Lizabeth J. Johnson
Feb 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
I'm teaching an Honors class on individuals who have come into conflict with their society/culture, and I wanted the students to read about Aung San Suu Kyi because of the current human rights crisis in Burma. Popham's book does a good job in discussing how her late entry into politics was driven by the memory of her father and the Burmese people's desire to see her continue her father's legacy. Popham also describes in detail the military regime's response to her activities and popularity, maki ...more
Aug 30, 2017 rated it really liked it
A biography of Aung Sun Suu Kyi the political, cultural, and spiritual leader of the Burmese movement against the cruel military junta, this book explores the influence and personal strength of a women who gave up much of her life to stand with her country people, remaining an important figure despite 20 years under house arrest by the junta. (Only a few years after this biography was written, an election finally put Suu Kyi's party into power... nearly 30 years after the protests that started i ...more
Marie (UK)
I found this a fascinating look into the life of Aung San Suu Kyi and it was for the most part very readable. However i struggled with the way the notations were identified - every one being an asterisk - and felt it would have been better if they could at least have been numbered per chapter particularly as many people will read this on e-devices which don't use page numbering. I also felt there was a fair bit of repetition and never understand why a biography is not a linear account rather tha ...more
May 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: biographies
Wonderful book. Inspiring to read about this iconic character. Hats off...
May 31, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Could not finish it. It lacks depth and historical context. It relies too much on the content of Ma Thanegi and uses barely any other primary source. Very disappointed.
Zach Rasey
Nov 30, 2016 rated it really liked it
Compelling biography...would recommend to someone in Political Science
Raphael Harel
Jan 03, 2015 rated it liked it
In "The Lady and the Peacock", Peter Popham has brought forth a highly intricate biography of the mesmerising life of Aung San Suu Kyi. This book perfectly encapsulates the struggles presented to Suu Kyi throughout her life- be it in Oxford or at 54 University Avenue, the details of what surrounded her were exact and elaborate. Popham accurately represents the political situation and its development throughout the 20th and early 21st century, and does so in an intricate manner that is intriguing ...more
Chris Craddock
Jun 18, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: social-studies
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
Andrea Stoeckel
Mar 23, 2014 rated it really liked it
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
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
Waruna Perera
Feb 19, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Brilliantly written book about Peace icon of Asia.
Jess Macneil
May 06, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Robyn Smith
Apr 20, 2016 rated it really liked it
This well-researched and authoritative biograpy of Aung Sun Suu Kyi does much more than tell her story. It also tells the story of a ruthless authoritarian dictatorship imposed on Burma after Aung Sun's father was assassinated in the late 1940s, with subsequent mass killings, imprisonment and torture in this tiny country squashed between India and China. Popham also goes back to the 19th century of Burma, when the British sent the royal family into exile, supposing that Burma could become part o ...more
Rimoni Peniamina
Apr 17, 2016 rated it really liked it
I took my time reading this book because well, it reminded me of the supplement textbooks we had to read back in college so I made sure I fully comprehended each section and how they relate to each other as I progressed. For one thing, I learned much more about 20th century Burma than I cared to. I was also intrigued about Aung San Suu Kyi's portrayal by her followers and her enemies. There were so many who believed her to be almost divine and I have a suspicious feeling that her enemies' soft e ...more
Dec 26, 2011 rated it really liked it

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
Nov 18, 2015 rated it liked it
Good biography that lets a perfectly good story tell itself, without over-dramatising it. Found myself admiring the subject even more. It's a good primer for the story, as we watch some significant modern history before our eyes. The author bounces back and forth in time to the point of some confusion, but it may have been the best way to tell the story the way he wanted. It's a story about bravery in the face of brutality.
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