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The Burma Spring

Aung San Suu Kyi and the New Struggle for the Soul of a Nation
Narrated by: Karen White
Length: 24 hrs and 39 mins
5 out of 5 stars (3 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Aung San Suu Kyi, Burma's "woman of destiny" and one of the most admired voices for freedom in the world today, comes alive through this brilliant rendering of Burma's tumultuous history.

Award-winning journalist and former State Department speechwriter Rena Pederson brings to light fresh details about the charismatic Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi: the inspiration for Burma's (now Myanmar) first steps towards democracy. Suu Kyi's party will be a major contender in the 2015 elections, a revolutionary breakthrough after years of military dictatorship. Using exclusive interviews with Suu Kyi since her release from 15 years of house arrest, as well as recently disclosed diplomatic cables, Pederson uncovers new facets to Suu Kyi's extraordinary story.

The Burma Spring also reveals the extraordinary steps taken by First Lady Laura Bush to help Suu Kyi, as well as how former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton injected new momentum into Burma's democratic rebirth. Pederson provides a never-before-seen view of the harrowing hardships the people of Burma have endured and the fiery political atmosphere in which Suu Kyi has fought a life-and-death struggle for liberty in this fascinating part of the world.

©2015 Rena Pederson. Foreword © 2015 by Laura Bush (P)2015 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

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Profile Image for Anthony
  • Anthony
  • 24-03-2019

Informative but needs urgent update

One of few audiobooks that reflects on recent developments in Burma. It usefully provides longer term context and historical background and was certainly of value in its coverage of the pre-2015 period when it was published.

However, it is now seriously out of date and is something of a hagiography and thus cannot easily be recommended to those wanting to learn about Burma in the current period. The National League for Democracy, headed by Aung San Suu Kyi is now in government and works on a daily basis with the military regime which has retained a great deal of power. For example 25% of elected political bodies have to be military personnel - whether in Parliament or in township (local) government. Corruption remains widespread. Ongoing conflict with ethnic nationality organisations and their armed factions continue. Human rights abuses occur on all sides. Change has been much slower than anticipated; the market has opened out massively but without appropriate accountability and control systems, leaves the Burmese community and their bountiful country, open to exploitation by political and military elites, by foreign governments and corporations, and by abusive and corrupt individuals.

The human rights abuses against the Rohingya are barely mentioned and the most vicious manifestations of this occurred in 2018 after publication of this book in 2015. Aung San Suu Kyi's response has been underwhelming, and a book like this should be updated to help us understand why she is not the human rights campaigner the world thought she was, or why she feels her hands are tied and she has little space to criticise the military and racist militia, or whether indeed she buys into the "othering" narrative that is so widespread and omnipresent in Burma. Readers would want to understand these issues and why the status quo is so unsatisfactory.

Burma is changing, but decades of repression and human rights abuses have left their mark and remain omnipresent. The story of this beautiful and fascinating country and its diverse peoples needs to be updated. The book, as it stands, should be accompanied by a warning: "seriously misleading as out of date".

Publishers ought to promote an alternative to be prepared for audio. The country remains important and strategic, is of widespread interest, and deserves sympathetic but critical analysis in multiple reading/listening formats.