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A History of Modern Indonesia [Paperback]

Adrian Vickers
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)

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A History of Modern Indonesia A History of Modern Indonesia 3.7 out of 5 stars (3)
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Book Description

December 5, 2005 0521542626 978-0521542623
Although Indonesia has the fourth largest population in the world, its history is still relatively unknown. Adrian Vickers takes the reader on a journey across the social and political landscape of modern Indonesia, starting with the country's origins under the Dutch in the early twentieth-century, and the subsequent anti-colonial revolution which led to independence in 1949. Thereafter the spotlight is on the 1950s, a crucial period in the formation of Indonesia as a new nation, followed by the Sukarno years, and the anti-Communist massacres of the 1960s when General Suharto took over as president. The concluding chapters chart the fall of Suharto's New Order after thirty two years in power, and the subsequent political and religious turmoil which culminated in the Bali bombings in 2002. Adrian Vickers is Professor of Asian Studies at the University of Wollongong. He has previously worked at the Universities of New South Wales and Sydney, and has been a visiting fellow at the University of Indonesia and Udayana University (Bali). Vickers has more than twenty-five years research experience in Indonesia and the Netherlands, and has travelled in Southeast Asia, the U.S. and Europe in the course of his research. He is author of the acclaimed Bali: a Paradise Created (Penguin, 1989) as well as many other scholarly and popular works on Indonesia. In 2003 Adrian Vickers curated the exhibition Crossing Boundaries, a major survey of modern Indonesian art, and has also been involved in documentary films, including Done Bali (Negara Film and Television Productions, 1993).

Editorial Reviews


"Vickers's Modern Indonesia is no one-thing-after-the-other textbook. Innovatively framed around the writings of Pramoedya Ananta Toer, and invoking the arresting insights of Indonesian novelists and playwrights, it provides a stimulating, fresh understanding of Indonesia's modern, often tragic, trajectory. This is not a book written over the shoulders of nationalist politicians and military officers, but one that evokes the senses, flavours, turmoils and smells of everyday life in that irresistably complicated country." --R.E. Elson, Professor of Southeast Asian history, The University of Queensland

"I think this will become the standard history textbook on Indonesia for introductory classes and it will last because it is so beautifully written. I suspect it will set a new standard also because of the interpretations taken, implicit as they are." -- Gerry van Klinken, H-Asia

“Vickers interprets 20th-century Indonesian history through the writings of the Indonesian novelist Pramoedya Ananta Toer. A Marxist, Toer sees the colonial period as oppressive, believes strongly in the hope of the national movement for social revolution, laments the failure of this goal during the early independence period, and strongly opposes the New Order (1966-1998), with its emphasis on development rather than revolution and its authoritarian, militaristic base.”

"Adrian Vickers uses a unique style to provide his readers with a view of twentieth-century Indonesia...A History of Modern Indonesia is a thorough and informative account of Indonesia's history and political development in the twentieth and early twenty-first centuries." - Florence Lamoureux

"Vickers draws a compelling narrative of cogent historical detail, while also incorporating insights from other disciplines such as literature, anthopology, sociology and political science." - Trevor W. Preston, University of Toronto, Canada

"Vickers has written a useful book that provides an entertaining and mostly informative account of a country whose history should be better known." - David Webster, University of Toronto

Book Description

Adrian Vickers takes the reader on a journey across the social and political landscape of modern Indonesia, a relatively unfamiliar and understudied country. He starts with Indonesia's origins under the Dutch in the early twentieth-century, and concludes with the fall of Suharto's New Order after thirty two years in power, and the subsequent turmoil which culminated in the Bali bombings in 2002. Drawing on insights from literature, art and anthropology, Vickers portrays a complex and resilient people struggling out of a troubled past.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 306 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press (December 5, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0521542626
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521542623
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 5.9 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #932,657 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
26 of 27 people found the following review helpful
1. History is best told when it isn't a litany of dates and places and names.

2. History is better told when it attempts to describe the zeitgeist of the era, when it makes a time and place alive for you.

3. Vickers accomplishes this in describing the history of modern Indonesia, from the late colonial period to the present day. He includes the important dates, but takes special care to note the discourses and debates that shaped the events, and the daily lives of the poor and the rich and those struggling to hold their place in between.

4. I read this book for my research, but found it so compelling that I began to read it for pleasure, a rare turn.

5. Vickers makes sense of the complex and often covert history of Indonesia, which has experienced several volatile changes in the 20th century.

5. The radical shifts in leadership, ideology and policy - from colonialism to Sukarno's near-communism to the still-unsolved coup that confirmed Suharto's dictatorial technocracy, to the protests that overthrew him and invited a string of presidents in the last nine years - are illustrated by how it affected peoples' lives.

6. This is a history that takes into account the effect of political climate on art, literature, film and other manifestations of culture. It notes these arenas as both evidence for the contemporary mindset and as catalysts for change.

7. Vickers uses the voices of Presidents, the voices of laborers, and the voices of everyone in between to bring to life more than one hundred years of history.

8. Whereas other histories treat the cultural sphere and lived lives as separate matters, as anecdotes, as separate chapters, or not at all, Vickers' work is infused with these voices and cultures.

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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Highly Readable and Contemporary May 13, 2011
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Preparing to live in Indonesia for 10 months, I bought this book and read it cover to cover. It was not a chore to do so -- far from it! The only dull bit was a few pages in chapter 5, but maybe I was just feeling let down after the excellence of the first four chapters, in which Vickers sums up the Dutch colonial era with no punches pulled and guides us through the birth of nationalism and the revolution that carried Sukarno to power in the new nation in 1949. I felt as if Vickers rather likes Sukarno, while being fully aware of his less admirable traits.

Before reading this book, I had read two and a half of the four novels in Pramoedya Ananta Toer's Buru Quartet, and it's possible that I was particularly well prepared to enjoy Vickers's approach, which brings Pramoedya and related Indonesian writers and journalists into the story from time to time in a way that personalized the history more than you'd see in a typical history text. But I think someone who had no familiarity with Pramoedya's novels (or his life) would not be put off by this approach -- it does not dominate the text or interfere with the thread of history.

Chapter 6 covers the transition from Sukarno to Suharto as clearly as possible (I've read several accounts of this, and Vickers's is the best by far). The rest of the book takes us up to the tsunami of December 2004, and maybe the only real flaw in this text is the brief treatment of the events of 1998 and 1999. Even though that part of the story is not as rich as the years leading up to independence, the final chapters held my interest and helped me become familiar with how the country fared under Suharto and during the time immediately afterward.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
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I read this book to prep for a business school paper I was writing for a global economics final project. I needed a complete summary of Indonesian modern history as quickly as possible.

This book provided the facts that I needed and proved to be a fast and easy read. Some of the timelines traced in the book got a bit confusing, but once I had the background details, I found other online timelines to help with clarification of names and dates. Nothing on line provided, however, provided the detail of this book. It was invaluable in giving me information about politics in Indonesia.

I do not recommend this as a fun or relaxing read, but if you are searching for facts and general knowledge about Indonesian politics, this book is a good start.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A very abridged history December 18, 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is a very thin version of Indonesian History. Adrian Vickers' updated, 4th edition has much more "meat." Too dated to include the tsunami that devastated the country.
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