The Burma Spring

Award-winning journalist Rena Pederson delivers an inspiring biography of the charismatic Aung San Suu Kyi, whose life and work has served as inspiration for Burma's first steps toward democracy. Drawing on exclusive interviews with Suu Kyi since her release from her 15-year house arrest, Pederson sheds new light on the hardships Suu Kyi and her people endured in their on-going struggle for liberty.

The insightful biography opens with Pederson's secret interview with "The Lady" in 2003, revealing an intimate side to Burma's pro-democracy leader. Daughter of a martyred general and the head of Burma's National League for Democracy party, Suu Kyi won the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize but was unable to accept the award as she was under a house arrest that lasted off and on from 1989 until 2010. Suu Kyi endured many trials, including separation from her English husband Michael Aris and their sons, even when Aris was diagnosed with cancer that would take his life before he could see his wife again. Her party also won national elections in 1990, to no avail; the military continued to rule.

Pederson shows great pluck as a reporter, traveling to dictator Than Shwe's new capital Naypyidaw to report on the ominous empty boulevards, lavish unused buildings and other wasted resources while much of the country languished in poverty. She details the atrocities committed against peaceful protests by the people during the 8888 uprising as well as the monks who were brutally imprisoned, tortured and murdered during the infamous Saffron Revolution of 2007. A great admirer of Laura Bush (who wrote the introduction to the book), Pederson describes her active role in bringing humanitarian aid to Burma. What emerges from her efforts is not just a portrait of a heroine, but of the nation Suu Kyi has come to so strongly represent, a country both rich and repressed, with much to offer the traveler as it emerges from a troubled past.