Review: Perfect Hostage – Aung San Suu Kyi, Burma and the Generals by underground

Perfect Hostage: Aung San Suu Kyi, Burma and the Generals

by Justin Wintle


The problem with reading many non-fiction books is that you know how it is going to end. Reading a history of World War Two, for example, you know will know before hand who will be victorious and who will be defeated come 1945. Such is the case with Perfect Hostage, Justin Winton’s biography of Burma’s most famous political prisoner, Aung San Suu Kyi. As you read this book, such is the brilliance of the writing and the subject, you will be pulled by every ebb and flow of Burma’s people struggle to gain democracy. But alas, any optimism you may feel will be short-lived, as no sooner then the military given its people basic rights it again tightens its iron grip on the country. And of course, you know that to this day, Burma, or Myanmar as the junta calls it, remains impoverished due to the tyranny of the military and Suu Kyi remains under house arrest.


The despair you will no doubt feel aside, Perfect Hostage is a perfectly written non-fiction book. For those who know nothing about Burma or Suu Kyi, the book begins with a brief but comprehensive history of Burma. Not just a biography of Suu Kyi, a large part is dedicated to her father Aung San, the heroic Burmese icon who is credited largely with freeing Burma from the British Empire. His tragic assassination paved the way over half a century of military rule, first by the despotic Ne Win, and then by his equally self absorbed malevolent successors. But his legacy gave his strong willed daughter the fuel and the reputation to forge her own legacy. The Nobel Peace Prize winning Suu Kyi has won the admiration not only of the people of Burma but also of the world, for her refusal to be intimidated by a ruthless regime yet her dedication to non-violent means to bring about democratic change. Wintle sings her praises throughout, but is not completely without criticism, as towards the end he supports many of the sentiments held by opponents of Suu Kyi in the Burmese democratic movement. Regardless of what criticisms may be levelled at “the Lady’s” decisions, the fact she has remained under house arrest for almost twenty years is an awful crime, one of many however committed by military rulers who have mistreated their people for far too long.



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