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Once a royal kingdom and then part of the British Empire, Burma long held sway in the Western imagination as a mythic place of great beauty. In recent times, Burma has been torn apart and isolated by one of the most brutal dictatorships in the world. Now, Zoya of the, a young member ofthe Karen tribe in Burma, bravely comes forward with her astonishingly vivid story of growing up in the idyllic green mansions of the jungle, and her violent displacement by the military junta that has controlled the country for almost a half century. This same cadre has also relentlessly hunted Zoya and her family across borders and continents. Undaunted tells of Zoya’s riveting adventures, from her unusual childhood in a fascinating remote culture, to her years on the run, to her emergence as an activist icon.
Named for a courageous Russian freedom fighter of World War II, Zoya was fourteen when Burmese aircraft bombed her peaceful village, forcing her and her family to flee through the jungles to a refugee camp just over the border in Thailand. After being trapped in refugee camps for years in poverty and despair, her family scattered: as her father became more deeply involved in the struggle for freedom, Zoya and her sister left their mother in the camp to go to a college in Bangkok to which they had won scholarships. But even as she attended classes, Zoya, the girl from the jungle, had to dodge police and assume an urban disguise, as she was technically an illegal immigrant and subject to deportation. Although, following graduation, she obtained a comfortable job with a major communications company in Bangkok, Zoya felt called back to Burma to help her mother and her people, millions of whom still have to live on the run today in order to survive—in fact, more villages have been destroyed in eastern Burma than in Darfur, Sudan.
After a plot to kill her was uncovered, in 2004 Zoya escaped to the United Kingdom, where she began speaking at political conferences and demonstrations—a mission made all the more vital by her father’s assassination in 2008 by agents of the Burmese regime. Like Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Zoya has become a powerful spokesperson against oppressors, undaunted by dangers posed to her life. Zoya’s love of her people, their land, and their way of life fuels her determination to survive, and in Undaunted she hauntingly brings to life a lost culture and world, putting faces to the stories of the numberless innocent victims of Burma’s military
“A miracle… suspenseful, illuminating, filled with as many sweet moments as it is with searing descriptions of the civil war that has shattered the lives of hundreds of thousands of people. An important contribution to the growing body of war-child literature…A balanced, realistic account of life as it has been and is still experienced by hundreds of thousands of ethnic peoples in Myanmar…[T]he real power of this memoir… [is that it is] a crucial political act.” –The Globe and Mail
“Evokes the same despairing anger as Cambodian refugee classics such as Someth May’s Cambodian Witness…Moving.” –Financial Times
“Moving…The Karen’s plight is now more desperate than it has ever been. But, as this book shows, they have not given up hope.” –Telegraph, five stars out of five
"In this aptly named memoir, Phan ... lets her life story document the ongoing struggle for democracy against Burma’s military dictatorship. Vividly told, her eventful story moves from childhood idyll in a village of bamboo huts to that of a teenage refugee running from the Burmese Army towards the Burma-Thailand border—and eventually to an academic scholarship in Great Britain. Every danger brings a lesson about the resiliency of family, the necessity for education, or the fragility of hope. As in American slave narratives, Phan gives voice to the voiceless. Phan evokes anxiety and urgency in moments of possible despair, including historical travelogue and chiding political analysis. ... readers will find a compelling wake-up call." --Publishers Weekly