From Publishers Weekly
Nobel Peace laureate Suu Kyi seems both the least likely and the most natural person to become the world's best-known prisoner of conscience, and Wintle's thoroughly engrossing book magnificently illustrates both sides of this elusive yet very public figure. Her education at Oxford and self-effacing demeanor did not prime her for the life of a dissident. Behind her reserve and English veneer, however, was a resolutely stubborn streak and a family life steeped in politics. Wintle's research has been prodigious; he brings encyclopedic knowledge of just about anything that can be linked to Suu Kyi. In rendering his subject, he weaves in Burmese history and folklore, Buddhism, Indian politics and portraits of Suu Kyi's intimates and enemies; that he delivers all this in an absorbing fashion is a marvel. Entertaining and instructive, charming and persuasive, Wintle mingles sober history and gossipy chat. Obscure political in-fighting is made comprehensible; unfamiliar colonial history is made accessible. Still, Wintle (Romancing Vietnam
; Furious Interiors
) can skewer in a sentence (About Sanjay [Gandhi] there was something palpably uncouth, while the vainglorious Rajiv [Gandhi] was lacking in intelligence). Suu Kyi's developing political activism, her house arrests, her honors are delineated in draftsman's detail that Wintle manages to keep vibrant. He is a biographer smitten with his subject, who cares enough to note the smallest detail, such as that Suu Kyi prefers Simenon's Maigret to Christie's Poirot. In making the reader care about the smallest things, Wintle makes the reader really care about the big thing—that the world's best-known prisoner of conscience is not free. (Apr.)
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*Starred Review* Burma’s nightmare of tyranny and genocidal violence grinds on, and Nobel Peace Prize winner Suu Kyi remains under house arrest. In the first full-throttle biography to chronicle Suu Kyi’s exemplary life in the context of totalitarian Burma’s bloody history, British writer Wintle delineates the legacy of her martyred father, General Aung San, who launched Burma’s first democratic movement and was promptly assassinated, and of Suu Kyi’s accomplished mother, who served as ambassador to India. His portrait of Suu Kyi reveals just how much this cosmopolitan book lover stood to lose when, after attending Oxford, marrying British Tibetologist Michael Aris, and having two sons, she returned to Burma in 1988 and committed herself to leading the nonviolent fight for democracy. Wintle writes with a snarling wit, firm grasp of Burma’s horrors, and penetrating respect for this tenacious and composed prisoner of conscience, detailing her genius for connecting with people, the threats against her life, and her devotion to peace. Suu Kyi holds fast to her convictions in cruel isolation, while her supporters are brutalized and the world goes on about its business. At least Wintle’s powerful portrait brings the inspirational Suu Kyi back into the light. --Donna Seaman