Rebel of Rangoon: A tale of defiance and deliverance in Burma - 2015 By Delphine Schrank. An amazing, insightful book that shows us the democracy movement in Burma/Myanmar. Read in 2016
We in the West saw and heard about the wonderful Aung San Suu Kyi, but without knowledge of what was behind her, this mainly underground world of grassroots democracy activists, of experiments and strategy, suffering and sacrifice, recruitment and support, monks and punks, disagreements and loyalty, prison and politics, that have brought the country to where it is now, after so many decades of oppression.
It is fascinating to see how a democracy movement works and to imagine many others taking place in other countries, often under the radar. The Burmese movement must be an inspiration to others and, apparently, Gene Sharp wrote his 1993 non-violent revolution rulebook, “From Dictatorship to Democracy”, with the encouragement of an exiled Burmese journalist.
The people are real, even though the book reads like a novel and, indeed there is material enough for multiple movies. The reader is in the hands of a very talented journalist who has been immersed in Burma and the characters she develops ever since her first assignment post-Nargis in 2008. Add to that a talent for great writing, as rich as her subject, and hats off to Delphine Schrank for opening the window to this world of the shadows. The book culminates in the 2012 elections with Aung San Suu Kyi and 46 other NLD members in parliament and cautious hope for the 2015 elections. Shrank’s Epilogue tops it all off, showing what the world should know by now: that in the vacuum left when autocratic leaders start to let go, other problems long suppressed rise to the surface.
I have read 23 Burma-related books during and after a trip there in 2014 and I think this one is right at the top. It has everything: great investigative reporting, effective storytelling, wonderful writing and opening my eyes to the world of the democracy movement. I have so much admiration for those people, and for the author for documenting their story.