Education About Asia: Online Archives

A History of Modern Indonesia

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292 PAGES, ISBN 0521834937, HARDBACK

Reviewed by Florence Lamoureux

Adrian Vickers uses a unique style to provide his readers with a view of twentieth-century Indonesia. Throughout this book, Vickers, a Professor of Asian Studies at Australia’s University of Wollongong, references Indonesia’s history to the writings of and incidents in the life of Indonesian author Pramoedya Ananta Toer. Pram, as his countrymen and women commonly refer to him, was a giant among Indonesian authors and well known by Indonesians and scholars of Indonesia as an outspoken critic of both colonialism and Indonesia’s post-colonial governments. Pram’s prolific writings chronicle life under the Dutch, the Japanese occupation, the Sukarno presidency, and Suharto’s thirty-two year reign. He is best known for a series of four novels collectively titled The Buru Quartet (This Earth of Mankind, Child of All Nations, Footsteps, and House of Glass) . These books are set in the early 1900s when Dutch colonialism was still in effect and independence was a growing issue among Indonesia’s educated population. Vickers refers to events in these books and to Pram’s other writings as he constructs his detailed history of modern Indonesia.