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Letters from Burma Paperback – January 1, 1998

4.3 out of 5 stars 35 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Language Notes

Text: English (translation)
Original Language: Japanese

About the Author

Aung San Suu Kyi is the leader of the struggle for human rights and democracy in Burma. In 1990 she was awarded the Thorolf Rafto Prize for Human Rights in Norway and the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought by the European Parliament and in 1991 she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. She is the author of several Penguin books, including FREEDOM FROM FEAR and THE VOICE OF HOPE.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books (January 1, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140264035
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140264036
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.6 x 7.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.5 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,785,630 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Maurizio Giuliano on December 30, 2000
Format: Paperback
This is not just a book. Along with Aung San Suu Kyi's two other major books ("Freedom from Fear" and "Voice of Hope"), this book is destined to be at the heart of the struggle - and eventually the victory - for democracy in Burma. Among the three, this is the one I found most wonderful. Vivid, direct, it makes the reader feel as if she/he is listening to Suu Kyi, with her wonderful Asian voice and Oxford accent. Suu Kyi talks about Burma, about her people, about herself. She tells of the tragedies of her people, in the most natural and serene way, as if she were telling of everyday life - because indeed, this is the Burmese everyday life. She does not inflate things, she does not push for her views, yet she reaches the reader's heart immediately - at least she did with me ! She simply expresses views and feelings along with plenty of thrilling facts and anecdotes. I can't imagine of any reader who won't love this book and won't feel inspired by this account from Burma's heroine. After reading this and the other books, I felt so close to Burma's struggle that I absoliutely had to go there and meet Suu in person. So I did, I took off for Burma and managed to meet her. I had met many world personalities before, but this was truly a unique event in my life. The pages of the book kept coming back to my mind, as I could finally see the source of all that strength and hope, the incarnation of Burma's struggle. In the end I was deported from Burma for having made contact with her. Now these books are my inspiration to keep fighting on for democracy in Burma in all ways I can.
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Format: Paperback
This is a collection of 52 essays that Aung San Suu Kyi had written in the mid 1990's for a Japanese newspaper. She discusses a full range of topics including politics, religion, and the daily life of the Burmese people as seen through the eyes of the country's biggest proponent of democracy.
Her tales are fascinating and well written. They offer a glimpse into the world of an almost Orwellian regime and can peak the interest of readers unfamiliar with Burma's current state of unrest.
As a recent traveller to Burma, I was looking for more detail into Burma's history and details surrounding the nullified election in 1990. Though these issues are touched upon, each essay is a mere 2.5 page newspaper article which does not lend itself to such depth. It is however a fascinating read and a great introduction to Burma's struggle for democracy.
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Format: Paperback
An eloquently written piece that will be finished in a few sittings, Suu Kyi's Letters from Burma is a collection of short essays she submitted to the Japanese newspaper Mainichi Shinbun.

It is likely that because it has been written for a mass audience, you will find 'Letters from Burma' easier to digest than her other books, Freedom from Fear and Voice of Hope.

A remarkable politician, she examines Burma through its common people and the everyday lives that are led. As with all of Suu Kyi's books, she takes care to not forget why her party is fighting for democracy - its people.

She discusses Burmese politics sans the jargon, allowing this book to be appreciated by everyone, even if new to the situation in Burma.

She included in her writings, several wonderful quotes from English, Japanese and Burmese poems, reflecting her regard of the arts. The title 'Letters from Burma' more than merely states the intention of each of the 52 entries in this book. Her entries are personal, light-hearted, frustrated, or balanced. They are addressed to the reader, bringing him/her into the world of Burma, and seeing it as it is for a lay person.

She has managed to make getting aquainted with politics so beautiful and enjoyable, through which i suppose she nurtures the concern and interest in matters of her state, that you are likely to re-read certain entries, if not the whole book again once you're through it.
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By A Customer on May 19, 2000
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
As this book is a compilation of 52 letters written to be published as a weekly installment in a Japanese newspaper (each 2 or 3 pages long), it is an easy book to pick up when you have a few minutes. (In New York, we would call it a great subway read - you can read a letter or two between when you get on the subway and when you have to get off.) The letters combine Aung San Suu Kyi's political beliefs and accounts of the remarkable work of her political party (the National Democratic League) with vivid descriptions of Burmese culture and countryside. There are probably other books that focus solely on either the politics or the culture of Burma that do a more comprehensive job of describing it, but this seems like a great introduction to both.
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My interest in Burma was sparked after I read Amy Tan's "Saving Fish from Drowning" in 2006. The reading of that novel resulted in a more in-depth look into the country's history, politics and peoples. During that year I set sights on Burma, somehow knowing that my passion for travel and cultural exchange would one day lead me there. As travel restrictions ease and the political situation improves an opportunity to visit the county presented itself and the need to get reacquainted with the political climate lead me to "Letters from Burma." Published in 1991, the book is a collection of letters from the country’s most visible democracy advocate and Nobel Peace Prize laureate. The collection not only provides insight to the political atmosphere under which Kyi and others pressed for democracy, but it also provides a view of the cultural and religious diversity within the country. I found the letters informative and compassionate; yet I am bereft of the experience of a country that I usually glean from fictional accounts, rendered by the creative writing of the country's contemporary authors. I've always believed that the literature from a country provides a good indication of the extent to which freedom resonates within its borders. Recommendations are welcome as I start to search for recent novels set in present-day Burma, written by Burmese (or any of its citizens). In the mean time, I can definitely recommend "Letters from Burma" for its edifying content and post colonial background.
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