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Peter Popham - The Lady and the Peacock: The Life of Aung San Suu Kyi

Peter Popham - The Lady and the Peacock: The Life of Aung San Suu Kyi

Myanmar democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi (C) applauds during a ceremony at the National League for Democracy headquarters in Yangon on Jan. 9, 2012. (Soe Than Win/AFP/Getty Images)

Peter Popham in conversation with Suzanne DiMaggio, Asia Society.

This major new biography of Aung San Suu Kyi — the Nobel Peace Prize laureate known to the world as visionary force for democracy in Burma, and to her followers as simply "The Lady" — draws on previously untapped sources and extensive new reporting to present, a vivid up-to date portrait that is essential reading at a moment when Burma, after decades of stagnation, is suddenly in flux as never before.

Author Peter Popham, a foreign correspondent for The Independent, distills five years of research — including covert trips to Burma, meetings with Aung San Suu Kyi, and previously unpublished materials into this landmark biography The Lady and the Peacock: The Life of Aung San Suu Kyi, which deftly portrays Suu Kyi's dilemmas, struggles, strength, courage and intellect.

In April 1988, Suu Kyi returned to Burma from Britain to nurse her sick mother. Within six months, she had become the leader of the largest popular revolt in Burma's history. Within two years, her party won a landslide victory in Burma's first free elections since 1960, and within four years, she received the Nobel Peace Prize. In return, Burma's military junta barred her from office and placed her under house arrest, which she endured for 15 of the past 20 years.  Despite constant danger and at extreme personal cost — during that time her husband Michael Aris passed away and her sons grew up into adulthood — "The Lady" continued and continues her tireless work to transform her country politically and ethically.

Now, she is poised on the cusp of political office — running for Parliament in the upcoming election on April 1, 2012, the first time she has ever been permitted to run. She has already changed Burma irrevocably, but only time will tell what role she will play in its future.

"What a gift to our world and what a splendid telling of it in this book. We are deeply indebted to Peter Popham for such a superb account.” —Archbishop Desmond Tutu

“This is the definitive and superbly written account of one of the most intriguing and admirable political and moral figures of our times.”

Pankaj Mishra, author of An End to Suffering: The Buddha in the World

“In this eloquent and evocative biography, Peter Popham supplies fresh insights into the personality of the stoic lady who is the symbol of Burma’s democratic aspirations. Aung San Suu Kyi’s success or failure is measured in terms of her own ethical yardstick rather than the calculus of state power.”

Sugata Bose, author of His Majesty’s Opponent: Subhas Chandra Bose and India’s Struggle against Empire

Followed by a book sale and signing.

Peter Popham is a foreign correspondent and feature writer for The Independent who has reported from Albania, Mongolia, South Asia and now Italy. He is also the author of Tokyo: The City at the End of the World. Popham is based in both England and Milan.

Suzanne DiMaggio, Asia Society's Vice President of Global Policy Programs, directs the Society's Task Force on U.S.-Burma/Myanmar Relations. Read her latest report, Advancing Myanmar’s Transition: A Way Forward for U.S. Policy, here.

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Event Details

28 March 2012
6:30pm - 8:30pm

725 Park Avenue (at E. 70th Street), New York, NY

$10 members; $12 students with ID and seniors; $15 nonmembers