Than Shwe was part of a military coup that took over Burma in the 1960s. To suppress dissent, his soldiers destroyed the countryside, sending people into hiding, refugee camps, or slavery. In 2007, Internet images of monks being beaten during a protest rally reached the rest of the world. This was followed by reports in 2008 of a devastating cyclone, when Than Shwe banned outside aid for weeks. Both events helped to raise global awareness about the human rights abuses suffered by the Burmese people. Now that Than Shwe is out of power and Burma is reopening to the world, it’s more vital than ever to learn about the history of this beautiful, fascinating country.
Zahler outlines the nation’s history and ably depicts life under Than Shwe’s regime. Aung San Suu Kyi, the leader of the pro-democracy movement, receives almost as much attention as Than Shwe. A Who’s Who lists major figures mentioned in the text, and sidebars cover topics like Burmese prisons, torture, and the black market. Full-color and black-and-white photos appear throughout. A useful volume, especially given Myanmar’s recent coverage in the media. —School Library Journal
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