cover of book

Indonesian Destinies
by Theodore FRIEND
Harvard University Press, 2003
Cloth: 978-0-674-01137-3 | eISBN: 978-0-674-03735-9 | Paper: 978-0-674-01834-1
Library of Congress Classification DS644.F69 2003
Dewey Decimal Classification 959.803


"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.

Table of Contents:

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
12. Stroke
13. New Leaders, New Islam
14. Election 1999: Reds, Greens, Blues, Yellows
15. East Timor
16. Anarcho-Democracy

Epilogue: Sukarno's Daughter in the Palace


Reviews of this book:
An engaging romp through the 54 years of Indonesia's existence, its scope is a broad one. Part personal memoir, part history, part economic treatise, it makes for a useful (and bang up-to-date) introduction to the unknown archipelago, particularly valuable in light of the absence of much in the way of competition.
--The Economist

Reviews of this book:
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, New York Times

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, Jakarta Post

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, Washington Times

Reviews of this book:
[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, Wall Street Journal

Indonesia, the world's largest Muslim country, is extraordinarily complex, and few books give so complete and vivid an introduction as does this one. Friend, a masterly political scientist, economist, and anthropologist and an insightful travelogue observer, has met most of the major actors who have shaped Indonesia since its independence and is thus able to bring them to life...[He leaves] the reader with an informed understanding of contemporary developments in this important but distant country.
--Foreign Affairs

A major work based on an incomparable first-person experience of a stunningly wide range of critical events and major personalities. Friend seems to have known everyone and been everywhere.
--Clifford Geertz

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