The Heart Must Break: Burma - Democracy and Truth

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9780099426943: The Heart Must Break: Burma - Democracy and Truth

This is the compelling story of James Mawdsley, a 27 year old man from Lancashire who returned home to Britain at the end 2000 having endured 14 months of solitary confinement and torture in a Burmese prison. Sentenced to 17 years imprisonment for his protests against the brutal military regime for the junta, this was not Mawdsley's first time to be captured but his third trip to Burma in what was a well thought-out, determined exercies in his campaign to publicize human rights violation in a country terrorised by an illegal regime. Mawdsley describes how he came to leave university, and the promise of academic success, to pursue instead something more purposeful, charting with sensitivity, intelligence and humour, the experiences that lead him to Burma. He goes on to describe his fellow prisoners and his torturers with irony and a kind of sympathetic tenderness. Mawdsley rejects any claim of heroism or bravery and instead reflects on his motives, his ability to survive such isolation and terror - how he discovered a kind of spiritual solace and peace despite his terrifying situation - and what now lies ahead, both for himself, with his new freedom, and for the people of Burma.

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Review:

The Heart Must Break, James Mawdsley's keen account of his campaigning and imprisonment in Burma, bears out with grim conviction the adage that if you play with fire you are likely to get burnt. Combining aspects of Winston Smith from George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four (Orwell, incidentally, was a policeman in Burma) with 1970s TV sitcom anti-hero Citizen Smith, Mawdsley was arrested on three separate visits for distributing cassettes and leaflets in Rangoon protesting human rights abuse and political oppression. The first occasion was, by his own admission, inept, and he was quickly booted out. With the second protest, after which he was sentenced to five years in prison, things became more brutal, as he was tortured by Military Intelligence. Undaunted, his third arrest in August 1999, only three months after being released, brought international headlines and a 17-year sentence. The findings of a UN Working Group, on top of an international campaign of pressure by his patiently supportive family finally precipitated his release after 14 months in prison.

As well as detailing his experiences, The Heart Must Break also provides a platform for Mawdsley's arguments, if any reader needs convincing. There are hints of a darker side to the author--his attempted suicide after dropping out of university, for example--but he describes his story in unadorned prose, concerned more with the notes than the tune. Rather than the malapropos humour and earnest tub-thumping, the most convincing passages describe his trekking through the villages of Thailand and Burma. God, he believes, helped him through his ordeals, and while this repeated assertion can wear thin for the less devout reader, the hardships he faced helped forge his identity as a modern missionary whose compassionate idealism and bravery are undeniable. --I>David Vincent

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Mawdsley, James
Published by ARROW (RAND) (2002)
ISBN 10: 0099426943 ISBN 13: 9780099426943
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2.

Mawdsley, James
Published by ARROW (RAND) (2002)
ISBN 10: 0099426943 ISBN 13: 9780099426943
New Paperback Quantity Available: 1
Seller
Irish Booksellers
(Rumford, ME, U.S.A.)
Rating
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Book Description ARROW (RAND), 2002. Paperback. Book Condition: New. book. Bookseller Inventory # 0099426943

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