From Publishers Weekly
Vast, vital and incredibly diverse economically, socially, ethnically and religiously, the Republic of Indonesia has been hit hard by successive dictatorships, the East Asian recession and religious militants. Dahlby, former Newsweek
and Washington Post
bureau chief, begins his journalistic account of his pre- and post-9/11 travels there with a study of religious conflict in the Moluccas in 1999. A reluctant interisland passenger along with several hundred Islamic jihadis, he meets a Moluccan elder statesman and his savvy daughter. On a later trip, he finds the country suffering from the aftereffects of 9/11 and American pressure to deal with what is inaccurately perceived as a monolithic jihadist movement—Indonesia's Islam, and its militant factions, are no more monolithic than any other aspect of the country. While he gives short history lessons (on Indonesia's Dutch colonial period, for instance) and cuts to larger current political debates during his journeys, Dahlby stays closer to his own feelings and the logistics of his trips than many readers will want: his style is sometimes positively chatty; he draws on his own politics freely in interpreting his experiences. Yet the writing has a strong visual quality and vividly drawn players given the desperate shortage of popular material on Indonesia, this title helps fill the information gap.
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“A portrait of a religion under change, which can be as thoughtful and as insightful as it is sometimes irreverent.” (Jakarta Post )
Thoughtful and engaging. Dahlby combines the sharp sensitivities of a political observer with an old-fashioned flair for storytelling. (Newsweek (International Edition) )