Year published :December 2019

Pages :192 pp.

Size :15.5x23 cm., paperback

Maps :2

Rights :Southeast Asia

ISBN: 9781501746949

Fifty Years in the Karen Revolution in Burma: The Soldier and the Teacher

by Cornell University Press

Distributed in Southeast Asia for Cornell University Press

By Saw Ralph and Naw Sheera
Edited by Stephanie Olinga-Shannon
Introduction by Martin Smith

Fifty Years in the Karen Revolution in Burma is about commitment to an ideal, individual survival and the universality of the human experience. A memoir of two tenacious souls, it sheds light on why Burma/Myanmar's decades-long pursuit for a peaceful and democratic future has been elusive. Simply put, the aspirations of Burma's ethnic nationalities for self-determination within a genuine federal union runs counter to the idea of a unitary state orchestrated and run by the dominant majority Burmans, or Bamar.

This seemingly intractable dilemma of opposing visions for Burma is personified in the story of Saw Ralph and Naw Sheera, two prominent ethnic Karen leaders who lived—and eventually left—"the Longest War," leaving the reader with insights on the cultural, social, and political challenges facing other non-Burman ethnic nationalities.

Fifty Years in the Karen Revolution in Burma is also about the ordinariness and universality of the challenges increasingly faced by diaspora communities around the world today. Saw Ralph and Naw Sheera's day to day lives—how they fell in love, married, had children—while trying to survive in a precarious war zone—and how they had to adapt to their new lives as refugees and immigrants in Australia will resound with many.

About the Author 

Saw Ralph retired as Brigadier General of the Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA), the military branch of the Karen National Union. Naw Sheera is a school teacher and former leader in the Karen Women's Organization (KWO).

What others are saying

"Fifty Years in the Karen Revolution in Burma is a vivid account of life, death, and personal choices in one of the longest-running insurgencies of postcolonial Myanmar." Renaud Egreteau, City University of Hong Kong

"This is a fascinating and moving narrative by two members of the Karen National Union who dedicated their life to the Karen struggle for autonomy since 1949. It provides insight into one of the longest civil wars in modern history and into the sacrifices and tragedies this struggle produced in terms of death, displacement, and suffering." Mikael Gravers, Aarhus University, author of Nationalism as Political Paranoia in Burma

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