Indonesian Destinies

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Harvard University Press, Oct 31, 2005 - History - 640 pages
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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 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.

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - theonearmedcrab - LibraryThing

For recent history one could do worse than reading “Indonesian Destinies” (2003), written by Theodore Friend. The book deals comprehensively with Indonesia’s post-independence history, the three ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - ebethe - LibraryThing

I recently moved to Indonesia and was looking for something in English that was more current affairs than history. This has a lot of current history, but way too much gossip and too learned references ... Read full review

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About the author (2005)

Theodore Friend, former President of Swarthmore College and President Emeritus of the Eisenhower Exchange Fellowships, is a Senior Fellow of the Foreign Policy Research Institute, Philadelphia. He was awarded the Bancroft Prize for his book on Philippine-American history, Between Two Empires. His other books include The Blue-Eyed Enemy and Family Laundry, a novel.

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