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"How can such a gentle people as we are be so murderous?" a prominent Indonesian asks. That question--and the mysteries of the archipelago's vast contradictions--haunt Theodore Friend's remarkable work, a narrative of Indonesia during the last half century, from the postwar revolution against Dutch imperialism to the unrest of today. Part history, part meditation on a place and a past observed firsthand, Indonesian Destinies penetrates events that gave birth to the world's fourth largest nation and assesses the ...
"How can such a gentle people as we are be so murderous?" a prominent Indonesian asks. That question--and the mysteries of the archipelago's vast contradictions--haunt Theodore Friend's remarkable work, a narrative of Indonesia during the last half century, from the postwar revolution against Dutch imperialism to the unrest of today. Part history, part meditation on a place and a past observed firsthand, Indonesian Destinies penetrates events that gave birth to the world's fourth largest nation and assesses the continuing dangers that threaten to tear it apart.
Friend reveals Sukarno's character through wartime collaboration with Japan, and Suharto's through the mass murder of communists that brought him to power for thirty-two years. He guides our understanding of the tolerant forms of Islam prevailing among the largest Muslim population in the world, and shows growing tensions generated by international terrorism. Drawing on a deep knowledge of the country's cultures, its leaders, and its ordinary people, Friend gives a human face and a sense of immediacy to the self-inflicted failures and immeasurable tragedies that cast a shadow over Indonesia's past and future. A clear and compelling passion shines through this richly illustrated work. Rarely have narrative history and personal historical witness been so seamlessly joined.
Mr. Friend...succeeds in making Indonesia comprehensible because he uses a wealth of contemporary Indonesian contacts to paint a lively historical, sociological, anthropological and at times gossipy portrait of the country...For those who know little about Indonesia and for those who know much, this is a captivating rendition.
— Jane Perlez
For foreigners and Indonesians alike, Theodore Friend's book is a rich informative source to better understand the country's post-colonial history. This scholarly work has an engaging, often reflective narrative style that is always full of details from numerous interviews conducted since the writer first started visiting the country, sometime in 1967-1968.
— Mohammad Sadli
This is an outstanding general history of Indonesia over the four and a half decades since its troubled independence, won after 300 years of Dutch colonial rule. But it is also a reliable, insightful guide to the dynamics of current Indonesian politics, and the troubled but principled and (so far) surprisingly robust presidency of Megawati Sukarnoputri...[Friend] enjoyed exceptional access to the nation's key leaders during the dramatic transition to democracy in 1998-2000. His consequent blending of scholarship and hands-on direct experience informs every page of this book.
— Martin Sieff
[Friend] combines scholarly analysis with vivid personal recollections—of both important political players and ordinary people. The result is a book of passionate engagement and first-rate scholarship.
— Michael J. Ybarra
Indonesian Destinies offers a sustained treatment of Indonesian history and society that rivals Adam Schwartz's A Nation in Waiting as the most comprehensive overview of political change in the country from independence to the present day. It is appealingly modest in tone, simultaneously wideranging and attentive to detail, and commendably generous towards other Indonesia specialists, especially junior scholars. The book's historical narrative is peppered with regular digressions on important topics and with personal anecdotes from Friend's research and travels in Indonesia over many decades.
— John Sidel
Theodore Friend, the former president of Swarthmore College and a longtime observer of and participant in South-East Asian affairs, [takes] a wide, historical view in his thoughtful and trustworthy account of Indonesia from its creation out of the debris of a Dutch colonial past...Because he seems to have read everything, been nearly everywhere and met just about everyone, Friend proves himself to be a worthy guide through the hopes and tragedies of Indonesia's first fifty-odd years.
— Margaret Scott
Theodore Friend, a renowned scholar of Southeast Asian countries, has written a balanced, fascinating, and richly illustrated book about Indonesia. He records the views of presidents and generals, but he also dwells 'on several individual Indonesians of no special prominence because they illustrate ordinary lives with grace under pressure, and because I like them.' The result of this combination of personal anecdote and scholarly expertise is a kaleidoscopic view of the successes and failures of Indonesia: 'sometimes rarified aromas; too often, bloody reek.
— Vasuki Shastry
Theodore Friend has written a most engaging book about Indonesia, looking back over the first 50 years of Indonesian history, profiling many of the people whom he met in the course of researching the subject, and disarming the reader with frankly stated opinions about any number of topics that come up along the way. This is like no other book on Indonesia, far more scholarly than the snapshots of journalists and far more revealing of the author's open personality than most dissertations by academics. It is a book to be savored by readers who already know Indonesia well and to be read with profit by any who hope to join their company. Friend is a genial guide
a consummate reporter
and an indefatigable gatherer of the accounts of others
Friend writes with clarity and wit.
— John Bresnan
Prologue: The Largest Muslim Nation
Part I Sukarno
1. Indonesia, the Devouring Nurturer
2. Guided Chaos
3. Ego, Voice, Vertigo
4. Mass Murder
Part II Suharto
5. The Smile of Progress
6. The New Majapahit Empire
7. The Sound of Silence
8. The Last Years of Living Securely
9. Behind, Beyond, Beneath the Power Structure
10. Indonesia Burning
Part III Succession
11. Forcing Out Suharto
13. New Leaders, New Islam
14. Election 1999: Reds, Greens, Blues, Yellows
15. East Timor
Epilogue: Sukarno's Daughter in the Palace