Thursday, May 28, 2009

Books with Insights on Indonesian Society

Here are three more books on Indonesia that are not quite academic books, but nonetheless provide insights on Indonesia and Indonesian society:
  • Silenced Voices: Uncovering A Family's Colonial History In Indonesia by Inez Hollander. This is an account by a California University teacher of her forbears, a Dutch family long settled in colonial Indonesia. The focus is mainly on their experiences in WWII and in the final years before independence. While information has often been all but unobtainable it becomes clear that many members of the family suffered and died in horrific circumstances over which a blanket of silence has long been maintained. Reasons behind the silences, and the controversies which surround this period of Indonesia/Dutch history are discussed.
  • Eight Prison Camps: A Dutch Family In Japanese Java by Dieuwke Wendelaar Bonga. The author of this book was born in Holland in 1925. She left for Indonesia with her family as a three-year-old, and enjoyed a idyllic childhood in Java. All that soon changed for in the months following the bombing of Pearl Harbour, Dutch nationals were rounded up by the Japanese soldiers and put in internment camps. In these camps, the author witnessed starvation, forced labour, torture and death. On the family's return to Holland after the war, she found a nation that was recovering from German occupation and ignorant of the horror of the war in the Far East. The author decided to write about her experiences in the Indonesian P.O.W camps to document for her own children and for posterity the savage nature of war.
  • Reporting Indonesia: The Jakarta Post Story 1983-2008 by Bill Tarrant. The Jakarta Post was born in 1983 when Suharto's repressive New Order regime was at its height and the media was muzzled. Five rival media companies came together to start an English-language daily that some saw as an experiment doomed to fail. But the newspaper's punchy editorials, clean presentation of the news, and quirky columns and features quickly made an impression with the growing expatriate community. Over the years, the Post developed a unique editorial culture of expatriates and multicultural Indonesians. And by the time Suharto was ousted, the newspaper had earned a reputation for testing the limits of censorship and for breaking stories. This book traces the birth and growth of a newspaper in a developing country against the backdrop of the tumultuous events of the past 25 years in the world's fourth-largest nation. The story of this newspaper illuminates conflicting themes about journalism in Indonesia while taking the reader behind the scenes to reveal intrigue in the boardroom and stresses in the newsroom.

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