As the author discloses in the prologue, "this is a book about violence, and about being afraid." Indonesia in the late '90s was a place of both startling beauty and unimaginable violence. This vast island nation was facing the end of General Suharto's 32-year reign. Would the end of Suharto mean the end of Indonesia? The answer was anybody's guess. British journalist Richard Lloyd Parry set out to witness this transformation and saw firsthand that the promise of political freedom would come only at the cost of a savagery -- one "fought according to the principles of black magic" -- that will make your blood run cold.
Reports of vigilantism and guerrilla warfare came from East Timor, the Spice Islands, Jakarta, and East Java. From Borneo came accounts of headhunting and cannibalism (yes, in the 1990s!). Jungles were burned and the economy plummeted. But it was in East Timor that the author's Conradian journey came to an explosive end. Trapped in a UN compound while a battle raged outside, he discovered just how far he was willing to go to get the story.
If ever you doubted the existence of a supernatural realm and its power to protect and destroy, In the Time of Madness will serve as a convincing corrective. Blending politics and spiritism, Richard Lloyd Parry has mixed a potent cocktail of a book. (Spring 2006 Selection)