The Dark Side of Paradise: Political Violence in Bali (Asia East by South) Reprint Edition

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ISBN-13: 978-0801481727
ISBN-10: 0801481724
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Editorial Reviews

Review

"The Dark Side of Paradise is an effective attempt to put the politics back into Bali's twentieth-century history. With a sure mastery of both Indonesian and Dutch sources, Robinson analyzes the class tensions between aristocrats and commoners during the late colonial period."―Times Literary Supplement

"Exhaustively documented. . . . This book is an important achievement. Refreshingly free of fashion and jargon, the book also provides insights of comparative importance into the ways in which elite rivalries intensify factionalism in society. . . . A remarkable work of political history. It deserves to be read by all students of Southeast Asia and anyone interested in the causes of modern political violence."―American Historical Review
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Product Details

  • Series: Asia East by South
  • Paperback: 376 pages
  • Publisher: Cornell University Press; Reprint edition (April 9, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0801481724
  • ISBN-13: 978-0801481727
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.6 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,918,183 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Tintin on April 30, 2003
Format: Hardcover
I first visited Indonesia in 1984 and fell in love with Bali. I have since returned each year to the "Island of the Gods" from where I have been exploring the rest of the Indonesian Archipelago, and since 1991, I share my time equally between Bali and Winchester, Massachusetts. Of course, I am always eager to know more about all aspects of Balinese life. Although there is a plethora of books about Bali dealing with its wonderful culture and its arts, it is not the case about its particular history. After a while, it became obvious to me that this important missing part of the puzzle was essential to further my understanding of the complex character of the Balinese. The history of Bali is clouded in the mist of time, and reliable informations on the subject tend to be scarce and are not easily available. Historical documents, written in old Balinese language are obviously not accessible to a non-specialist Westerner such I myself. Because of the special relationship between the Netherlands and Indonesia, there exist numerous documents written in Dutch, covering the last few centuries. However, as with most people, the Dutch language is not my forte.

Therefore, it was a "revelation" to come across Robinson's book, "The Dark Side of Bali". The book covers in details the historical and political events in Bali, from the end of 19th Century until the aftermath of the 1965 coup d'etat. It relates the Balinese experience under the Dutch colonial domination, during the National Revolution, 1945 - 1949, the Sukarno era, 1950 - 1965, and the military coup of 1965 and its aftermath. It reveals another face of Bali, the hidden face of Paradise. It is a scholarly book based on Dutch and Indonesian sources. It reads well, and contains an impressive number of references.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By MichaelDonnelly on March 13, 2012
Format: Paperback
You won't find a "Massacre Spa" or "Mass Murder Villa" anywhere in Bali.Yet in 1966 up to 100,000 Balinese died in the violence which wiped out the Communist PKI party and established Suharto's New Order regime. Bali Hindus believe in reincarnation, but what happened to the memory of these lost souls?

Older Balinese remember, but won't often talk about it--under Suharto, it was a good way to dissappear; or at the very least, trigger violent reopening of wounds in the community. Most younger Balinese know nothing about it; it's not in the history books, there are no monuments or days of rememberance.

And tourists are happily oblivious. It serves no one's financial or social or political interests to resurrect these events.Tourists, New Age adventurers, and even many Balinese prefer the "tourist version" of history, created by the Dutch in the 1930s and reanimated under the Suharto regime in the 1970s. In this version, Balinese are apolitical, mystical, an "anciently innocent" people in the words of one recent American filmmaker, they are like children, enchanting in their colorful ceremonies and joyous play.

I just read Geoffrey Robinson's The Dark Side of Paradise - Political Violence in Bali. Devoured it slowly and carefully, in fact, and found in it the missing history of a people robbed of their heritage and inflicted with a trivialized past. I wrote Dr. Robinson when I finished, thanking him while commiserating that his book was probably not a commercial success amidst all the glossy paens to Bali in the bookstores. He answered "I have not won any popularity contests among the Bali-phile bules as a result of the book, but it is always gratifying when it does strike a chord.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By F. J. Van Velsen on March 13, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
One of the very few books I read more than once and that I had to buy again because I gave my copy away (to a Balinese friend). The book can best be understood after having read Robert Pringle's "A Short History of Bali: Indonesia's Hindu Realm", of which the 8th chapter is largely based on this book. Robinson puts the atrocities that came with the political coup bringing down Sukarno and installing Suharto in the right perspective. He proves that giving a very well researched and documented report of events can be combined with an almost storytelling way of writing. The author had a regular job that he more or less interrupted for his research and writing. What he does not say in so many words is that the most important sources of Indonesian history are to be found in Holland (Leiden) and that they are - of course - in Dutch, so that anyone studying the subject simply has to master that language, known as one of the most difficult on the planet. Being a Dutchman myself and having studied topics of Dutch colonial history in the same places, I am very impressed by the skills of both Robinson and the aforementioned Pringle. The book explains how the peaceful life on the "Isle of the Gods" isn't but skindeep and how old controversies and hatred, simmering underneath that sweet cover of Balinese smiles, have been unleached. Who has ever been to Bali as a tourist will find it hard to understand that precisely on this island the killings have been so ferocious. Robinson explains the backgrounds and gives very detailed accounts. Even many decades after the events, his Balinese sources still needed protection and are in many cases therefore kept in anonimity.Read more ›
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