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In the Time of Madness: Indonesia on the Edge of Chaos [Kindle Edition]

Richard Lloyd Parry
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)

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Book Description

In the last years of the twentieth century, longtime journalist Richard Lloyd Parry found himself in the vast island nation of Indonesia, one of the most alluring, mysterious, and violent countries in the world. For thirty-two years, it had been paralyzed by the grip of the dictator and mystic General Suharto, but now the age of Suharto was coming to an end. Would freedom prevail, or merely lawlessness? On the island of Borneo, tribesmen embarked on a savage war of headhunting and cannibalism. Vast jungles burned uncontrollably; money lost its value; there were plane crashes and volcanic eruptions. After the tumultuous fall of Suharto came the vote on independence from Indonesia for the tiny occupied country of East Timor. And it was here, trapped in the besieged compound of the United Nations, that Lloyd Parry reached his own breaking point. A book of hair-raising immediacy and a riveting account of a voyage into the abyss, In the Time of Madness is an accomplishment in the great tradition of Conrad, Orwell, and Ryszard Kapuscinski.

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Between 1996 and 1999, British foreign correspondent Parry repeatedly forayed into some of the worst strife rending the islands of Indonesia, a nation emerging tumultuously from the dictatorship of General Suharto. This boldly reported, introspective account—"a book about violence, and about being afraid"—is his attempt to make sense, however incompletely, of what happened in Java, Borneo and East Timor. In Borneo, Parry saw seven decapitated heads, among other horrors, when he went to report on "an ethnic war of scarcely imaginable savagery." He witnessed the collapse of the rupiah and the 1998 mass student protests in Jakarta on the occasion of Suharto's reappointment. As the East Timorese agitated for independence from Indonesian rule, Parry ventured into the East Timor jungle to meet with rebels. And when the independence referendum soon thereafter brought Indonesia's military might down on East Timor, a Portuguese colony until 1975, Parry holed up in the U.N. compound at the vortex of the violence. He laments his self-protecting decision to leave the compound, though, comparing himself unfavorably to fearless Polish journalist Ryszard Kapuscinski—"doused in benzene at the burning roadblocks." Holding Parry's writing to Kapuscinski's gold standard reveals it to be a little light on analysis and heavy on self-reflection, though it is clipped, vivid and honest. (Jan.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Product Details

  • File Size: 2699 KB
  • Print Length: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Grove Press (December 13, 2005)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #127,033 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
This is a terrific book. The author was in Indonesia at the end of the 1990's, in what was obviously a very tumultuous time for that country. The book is divided into three sections, each of which deals with a different event. The first section deals with two trips that Parry made to the island of Borneo, which witnessed several episodes of ethnic conflict during the 1990s. The author was specifically drawn to the island because of reports that members of a particular ethnic group were not only being killed, but that they were being slaughtered in brutal, ritualistic fashion. Parry not only manages to find people who confirm these stories, but on his second trip to the island he actually sees more direct evidence of these atrocities. The second section of the book deals with the student protests that led to the downfall of Suharto. This was probably my favorite part of the book, because Parry provides such an outstanding analysis of the ideological underpinnings of Suharto's regime. I only wish that he would have discussed in greater detail the financial crash as well as the ensuing involvement of the IMF, as well as the anti-Chinese riots that took place throughout the country. The final section of the book details the author's stay in East Timor, including his meeting with an elusive pro-independence guerilla fighter and his harrowing stay in the UN compound after the independence referendum, when the pro-Indonesian militias were committing reprisal attacks with the blessing of the Indonesian military. Throughout the book Parry manages to infuse the narrative with an impressive sense of drama, such that it often reads like a novel. Parry realizes that he witnessed history in the making, and he does a good job of conveying to his readers the historical import of the events that he relates.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent March 28, 2006
As an Indonesian that lived through the tumultous period covered in the book, I found Richard Parry's work to be very authoritative. He digs deep, more than just facts and statistics. Though not a picture that I want my homeland to be remembered by, I found this to be a must read.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
This book is both scary and important. However, the scary part is unimportant and the important part is unique in how innocent and un-scary it appears. Yet, at least to this reader, this brilliant author has inadvertently (and it seems), unnecessarily inverted the priorities of his topics.

While his preoccupation with carefully documenting (he spent an inordinate 100 pages -- the entire first half of the book doing so), perhaps the last instances of active cannibalism in the 20th Century is laudable, arguably and ultimately it is also unimportant. Because at the end of the day the cannibalism he documents proved to be little more than a symbolic gesture of victorious defiance by one tribe over another. That is to say it was the ultimate denouement; the ultimate flip of the bird by one tribe towards another. All tribes do this, whether primitive or modern.

Yet, somehow, the author has turned his (or our) revulsion to this single act of barbarity among so many, into a transparent attempt to "distance" modern man from the savagery of the warring and primitive tribes of Indonesia. And here, although it goes unstated in the text, it is clear that the author intended for the reader to misplace most of his emphasis on the word primitive. However, after reading the second half of the book, it is equally clear that the real savagery is not in cannibalism per se, but in a new kind of savagery, a kind that is much more subtle and has already infected the modern world. It is the same savagery that Hanna Arendt's has elsewhere coined the banality of evil.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Madness at two levels June 1, 2011
By Harry
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Having lived in Indonesia throughout the crisis period covered by the author, this book really hit the spot, bringing back so many memories. The book works at two levels. Firstly the tragic story of Indonesia when it was right on the precipice and could so easily have fallen into total anarchy, before slowly clawing its way back to at least a semblance of democracy (sadly still a long way to go, in the face of overwhelming entrenched corruption). Secondly, the story of the author and his growth as in individual over the years of crisis. It was pleasing to follow him moving beyond his disturbing initial enjoyment of the crisis as a 'Boys Own' adventure, witnessing the horrors of headhunting and cannibalism in the ethnic turmoil of Kalimantan and the after effects of rioting and rebellion in Jakarta, to finally realising that a crime against humanity was taking place and people's lives were being destroyed in every sense in the chaos and bloodshed of East Timor. It is not possible to put the book down without feeling disgust with the disgraceful behaviour and appalling brutality of the corrupt and cowardly TNI (the Indonesian army) in East Timor. As an Australian, it also rekindled memories of our national shame, with our complicity in initially accepting Indonesia's invasion of East Timor, fortunately redeemed as the author relates with the Australian army and UN-backed intervention to rescue the new nation's citizens from massacre by the Indonesian army and militias. Not perfect, but a fascinating read at both levels.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars This is my favorite book on the topic of Indonesia's recent history
I live in Indonesia, and have for several years. This is my favorite book on the topic of Indonesia's recent history. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Mediocre Gatsby
5.0 out of 5 stars The fall of Saharto and the independence of East Timor.
First off, tales of cannabilism are not high on my list of reading topics. The first 60 pages of the book deals with this very subject and how some of the primitive peoples of the... Read more
Published 4 months ago by Kevin M Quigg
5.0 out of 5 stars Turmoil, Violence and Being Afraid
A young reporter makes his way to Indonesia during the final years of the 20th century, where he finds himself thrust head-long into a stretch of turmoil pulling at the... Read more
Published 7 months ago by ObservAsia
5.0 out of 5 stars Engrossing Way to Catch Up on Recent Indonesian History
Absolutely stunning eyewitness account of some of Indonesia's most grim and most recent events. I would recommend this to anyone who's living in Indonesia, just to understand the... Read more
Published 9 months ago by Renee Thorpe
5.0 out of 5 stars accurate history
I lived in Indonesia during this time. Lloyd Parry is accurate in his portrayal. It was truly a "time of madness"
Published 12 months ago by kristen louise steiner
5.0 out of 5 stars Not your average travelogue
For a shocking perspective on humanity and a tragic understanding of Indonesian history, this collection of first person memoirs of traveling in Indonesia in troubled times can't... Read more
Published 13 months ago by Onowhereman
5.0 out of 5 stars Brings contemporary issues into focus with historical perspective
A facinating, thoughtful glimpse into events surrounding Indonesia's recent history. Very well written and sensitive to reader's sensibilities. Read more
Published 22 months ago by Mary Conran
1.0 out of 5 stars None
i couldnt finish it...i read over 100 books a year and make it a point to get thru them mo matter what...couldnt do it with this one... Read more
Published on September 5, 2012 by Craig A. Szeman
5.0 out of 5 stars Disturbing beyond compare
This is the first book I've read that's so disturbing it wasn't worth the nightmares that accompanied it. Read more
Published on June 5, 2011 by David Berkowitz
5.0 out of 5 stars A First-Rate Work of Journalism
The author was there, and he bears witness. Throughout the time I spent reading this book, I was reminded again and again of all the journalists who go into the war zones around... Read more
Published on May 15, 2011 by Melinda McAdams
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More About the Author

Richard Lloyd Parry is a British author and award-winning foreign correspondent. He was born in northern England in 1969, and educated at Oxford University. Since 1995 has lived in Tokyo, where he is the Asia Editor of 'The Times' of London. He has reported from twenty-seven countries, including Afghanistan, Iraq, Kosovo and Macedonia. In recent years, he has covered the war in Iraq, the crisis in North Korea, political turmoil in Thailand and Burma, and the tsunami and nuclear disasters in Japan. In 2005, he was named Foreign Correspondent of the Year in the UK's What The Papers Say Awards.

He has also contributed to the London Review of Books, Granta and the New York Times Magazine. His books include In the Time of Madness (Grove 2005), an account of the violence in Indonesia in the late 1990s. People Who Eat Darkness: The Fate of Lucie Blackman, published in February 2011, was longlisted for the Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction.


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