There are examples of how people blessed with the most idyllic life and opportunities, or even from a completely unrelated background have surprisingly become the beacons of civilization and upheld human values and rights against the most formidable foes. It is amongst such illustrious personalities, that Aung San Suu Kyi has been hailed as yet another epitome as a peaceful freedom fighter. What drives a person to stand up and fight for freedom, is it the genetically inherent traits, or is it circumstances and obligations? Or is it a deliberate personal choice? Jesper Bengtsson explores Aung San Suu Kyi’s upbringing, her family, her academic interests against the backdrop of the chaos in her country while also striving to show the dichotomy of her approach against the military dictatorship in Burma. It is within the context of the volatile nation, her father’s glorious reputation and her determination, that Jasper makes a bold attempt to understand her life from all aspects.
The book provides a time lapsed portrait of Aung San Suu Kyi, which shows us lucid glimpses of her life as a fearless leader, and also the how she persevered to uphold her dignity even as a prisoner clearly highlights her resilience. Peeks into her daily life routine during her house arrest also gives the reader a sense of her strong principles and how her mere existence challenged the brutal military regime. The numerous international accolades and the Nobel Peace Prize are true testaments to her unwavering determination for political reforms for Burma.
The book gives a clear image of Aung San Suu Kyi as she diverges from a simple daughter and a loving wife to an undeniable force that represents the Burmese population and all the minorities. The book also tries to justify Aung San Suu Kyi’s split reputation for being open for negotiations but at the same time adamant on her basic demands for freedom. It further illustrates the dire state of the people as international interventions cease to have any impact on the xenophobic regime, which supported drug cartels and also due to the lack of oil wells which definitely discouraged any apparent US involvement despite the widespread atrocities carried out for decades. The author also asserts the failure to establish democracy in Burma to the eternal state of war and it is amid these miserable conditions Aung San Suu Kyi stands out as a symbol of the only hope, which is described as also being a symbol of failure.
The book highlights her disarming charisma, her Buddhist practice of compassion even for her foes and does not deliberate over her sacrifices to prove her calibre as iconic freedom fighter. It is within these myriad complexities, the author concludes the story with the reunion with her son, Kim Aris.