From Publishers Weekly
In elegant prose colored by vivid—but not precious—descriptions of her homeland, Burmese journalist Tin relates with great effect the insidious erosion of freedoms that occurred in her country, beginning in the 1950s with the installation of military rule and the imposition of socialism. Burma, or Myanmar since 1989, is a country often obscured to the rest of the world via the political paranoia of its government. Tin lifts the lid on how the country deteriorated under authoritarian socialism to become one of the world's poorest nations, and writes of her own personal conflict as both government-regulated journalist in a male-dominated environment and despairing Burmese patriot. As the turmoil grows, Tin's story continues to vacillate between resignation and the furtive search for any signs of hope, such as the one in 1988 when democracy advocates took to the streets for a brief moment of free expression. After enduring 10 more years of the often violent military junta's rule, Tin moved to the United States in 1998 to pursue a journalism fellowship. Her quiet but powerful story deserves a wide audience. (Feb.)
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From Burma, ruled by the gun for the past five decades by a xenophobic military regime, authentic voices only occasionally escape. Tin’s is one such voice. Born in 1950, Tin writes of personal incidents emblematic of her spirit, such as writing poetry or rebuffing suitors. With her independent personality in mind, readers accompany Tin through her career, which began as a literacy campaign worker, continued as a researcher for the government’s political party, and culminated as a translator and journalist on an officially approved newspaper. Whatever youthful sympathy she had for the government’s socialist program vanished under its totalitarian enforcement: her accounts of censorship, the arrest of friends, and a stint in a reeducation camp parallel her descriptions of the military’s resort to violence and electoral chicanery to retain power. Now an exile in the U.S., Tin contributes to Radio Free Asia. Certainly, few countries are as desperate for freedom as Burma, as this memoir forcefully illustrates. --Gilbert Taylor