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by Wendy Law-Yone

Pub Date: July 22nd, 2014
ISBN: 978-0-231-16936-3
Publisher: Columbia Univ.

The life of a noted Burmese newspaper editor and activist, recounted by his daughter.

Ed Law-Yone, outspoken owner, editor and publisher of Rangoon Nation, the city’s most influential newspaper, left his writings, diaries, notes and letters to his daughter, Wendy (The Road to Wanting, 2011, etc.), hoping that she would use them to tell her family’s story. She felt daunted: “The intricacies of Burmese politics! The byzantine characters and their biblical genealogies! It would take more than a labor of love to disentangle the skeins of Dad’s narrative.” In the 20-plus years since his death in 1980, she published several novels, before the author finally felt ready to investigate her “burdensome legacy.” The result is both an intimate personal memoir and a vivid history of Myanmar, formerly Burma, during decades of roiling upheaval. Ed Law-Yone took over the Nation in 1948, just as Burma won its independence from Great Britain. Sheltered by “the cocoon” of her family, the young Wendy did not see the political chaos around her as a fragile central government was attacked on all sides by groups of insurgents. Political volatility made newsgathering exciting but dangerous; her father, she discovered, kept a loaded gun in his desk. Nevertheless, he enthusiastically embraced his position as a public figure, attending international conferences, embarking on goodwill missions around the world and forging close relationships with men in power. In 1962, however, a military coup overthrew the elected government. Although at first Ed Law-Yone felt protected by his good relationship with the new leader, Gen. Ne Win, soon his role as gadfly and muckraker was quashed—he was arrested and incarcerated for 5 years. After his release, he left the country with his family and joined other Burmese exiles abroad to mount an opposition campaign to the oppressive military government—efforts that ultimately failed.

Weaving together events she witnessed and those gleaned from her father’s papers, Law-Yone gracefully conveys the dramatic story of her youth, her family, and a remarkable man’s life and work.