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Book Review: Perfect Hostage

February 27, 2009

“Perfect Hostage” written by Justin Wintle
Published by Skyhorse Publishing

“What I mean by defying authority is non-acceptance of unlawful orders meant to suppress the people. There’s nothing violent about it. It’s no more violent than is necessary in banging the keys of a typewriter.”

Justin Wintle’s biography is a well crafted, and thoroughly researched story of a woman who’s life has been wrought with more pain and suffering than most people could bear. Imagine not only losing your father, an icon not only to you as a child but an icon to his country, losing your country to vile, murderous dictators and lastly, losing your freedom. That is enough to crush the humanity from someone, but Aung San Suu Kyi has risen from the shallowness of despair to become an icon like her father, perhaps even larger.

While the book at times is very textbook-ish, if that’s even a word, it is well worth taking the time to read and digest the vast wealth of information Justin has managed to dig up. The thoroughness of “Perfect Hostage” not only tells the tale of one woman’s struggle with freedom, but a whole nations. From the beginnings of a country to more recent events like the protests led by Buddhist Monks in August of 2007, “Perfect Hostage” is a meticulous history of a nation screaming for freedom, yet not being heard by anyone.

Aung San Suu Kyi won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991 for her dedication to non-violence while fighting for democracy and human rights. She was not allowed by the ruling junta in Burma to attend the awards ceremony, so her sons Alexander and Kim accepted the award on her behalf. She was awarded 1.3 million dollars and chose to use that money to establish health and education trusts for the Burmese people. Some may think of giving this money as another sacrifice on her part, although she would not have thought of it that way. She could have used it to leave the country, start a new life- but that’s not what she is about. Aung San Suu Kyi’ life is Burma’s and Burma is forever indebted to her.

The book may seem cumbersome to some readers, it took me quite a bit of time to get through, but the tremendous amount of knowledge one comes away with after reading this book is immeasurable. “Perfect Hostage” is academic, yet elegant at the same time. The detail that has been payed attention to here does not go unnoticed and the reader will come away wondering how such a story could even be playing out in our time.

The story of Aung San Suu Kyi, and Burma,  is still being written today. Though under house arrest after nearly two decades time, she continues to defy authority in a non-violent manner, by just existing.

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