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The Year of Living Dangerously Mass Market Paperback – March 1, 1983

4.2 out of 5 stars 47 customer reviews

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About the Author

Christopher Koch is of Irish, English and German ancestry. For a good deal of his life he was a broadcasting producer, working for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation in Sydney. He has lived and worked in London and elsewhere overseas. He has been a full-time writer since 1972, winning international praise and a number of awards for his five previous novels - many of which are translated in a number of European countries. In 1995, Koch was made an Officer of the Order of Australia for his contribution to Australian literature. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books; Reprint edition (March 1, 1983)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140065350
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140065350
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.6 x 7.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (47 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #647,613 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
Intriguing thriller set in one of Indonesia's most turbulent times follows the basic plot of most of that country's shadow puppet fables. Viz: The earthly balance of good and evil has lapsed, and the clueless but good-hearted hero finds himself aided by the unexpected attentions of a bold dwarf.

There is so much going on, it's to be enjoyed on several levels. Innocence lost, cloak and daggery, true political intrigue, guy meets girl, expatriate sleaze, lessons in Indonesian culture: it's all there. Very nicely written with a perfect pace and memorable characters; Koch seems to be a great observer and decent researcher.

So nicely composed was this book, the subsequent film (featuring breathtakingly fresh performances by youngsters Sigourney Weaver and Mel Gibson) captured the best dialogue and the steamy atmosphere with apparent ease. Destined to be a classic, YLD is a story that takes hold and stays with you a long time.

De rigeur reading for the expats of Indonesia, but also a great book to have along if traveling in Indonesia (the twenty year ban on this book has been lifted by the government, so you can bring it in legally now)!
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
You will be transported to the steaminess of the equator. This is a wonderful story full of unique characters in the midst of one of the most turbulent times in Indonesia. Sukarno's Indonesia is an edgy place in 1965 and the group of western journalists Koch assembles as his main characters can sense the tragedy ready to erupt. Guy Hamilton, a television correspondent, is joined by Billy Kwan, a Chinese-Australian cameraman who determines that he should "assist" Hamilton. Theirs is an uneasy friendship, enhanced by the remaining cast of characters, whom you will meet when you read the book. Much is made of the fact that Billy is a dwarf, but that is what makes him so interesting. It enables him to get away with things typically sized people would not. He is a fascinating, multidimensional character who is far more an intellectual than people give him credit for, much more political than casual acquaintances would guess, and passionate about Indonesia, something he keeps mostly to himself. Koch weaves a great tale here: part mystery, part political espionage thriller, a little bit of romance (but not enough to put you off), and all of it packed into 300 pages of Indonesian atmosphere. It is a carefully crafted masterpiece of storytelling that I highly recommend. While readily available on shelves in Australian bookstores, it is likely less well known in the states. Too bad, Koch's books are worth every penny.
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Format: Hardcover
Not in a long time have I read a seemingly little book so slowly. I must confess I bought the paperback for fifty cents at a used book store for the romantic title (I love travelogues), a picture of a young Mel Gibson (but the
cover was the only piece of fluff in the book!) and because I was too cheap to rent the movie. I knew little about
either the 1982 movie (also featuring a younger Sigourney Weaver) or the poetic Australian author and
journalist, C. J. Koch.
Friendship, romance, idealism, obsession and ultimately betrayal are woven amongst historical and political intrigue as a group of foreign correspondents is stationed in Indonesia during turbulent 1965. Indonesia? I knew little more about this country since the time I lived in Kingston, Jamaica and one of my letters mistakenly posted to the capital city of the NEXT tiny island nation on the equator: Jakarta, Indonesia.
Let me leave you just enough detail about some of the characters to spark your curiousity: There's Billy Kwan, a half Chinese-Australian cameraman who happens to be a dwarf. His eccentric political philosophies loom large in comparison to his tiny stature. Billy's partner and idol, Guy Hamilton, is a Western journalist and an ambitious, solitary soul desperate to make a name for himself. Jill is an expatriate embassy secretary, suspicious, vulnerable and still naive after a succession of mismatched romantic involvements. Wally O'Sullivan, or "The Great Wally," as he is called, is the group's unofficial leader and respected news veteran. He is enormously fat and harbors his own secret sorrows despite the numerous parties he hosts.
Before the war in Vietnam consumed the world's attention, Indonesia had it's brief moment in the international
Read more ›
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
I grew up in SE Asia and I was enthralled when I first saw the movie. Two decades later I finally got to reading the book.

First thing is that Kock is a beautiful writer. Some of his sentences just blew me away. Especially when he describes Indonesia. He completely captures all the senses and you're right there on a hot Jakarta night with the aroma of clove cigarettes. He's a journalist so his knowledge of the underlying political event surrounding the novel are impressive as well. If you want to understand the unsteady and inscrutable world of SE Asian politics then this book will be a great introduction.

I think the book is weak in a few areas that prevent it from becoming a class. The critical failure is that the reader does not identify with any characters in the novel. The protagonist is Guy Hamilton and we're allowed to see his thoughts but I don't think we deeply relate to him. He's too shallow of a character. His main issues are that he's afraid of relationship commitment and he hasn't been able to succeed at work. Nothing too interesting here. Jill is also somewhat distant and I didn't feel the passion between them. The movie did a far better job of this. Billy, the dwarf, is the deepest character but he's too creepy to relate to.

The second issue is point of view. It's written from the point of view of another journalist, Cookie, who sees Guy and the other characters and writes the story. However we're able to get into Guy's brain and this switching between Cookie's view and Guy's internal thoughts is confusing.

The conflict never built up sufficiently either. We knew from what Cookie said that Billy would die and he would meet Guy in London later.

It's a good read especially if you want to be immersed in all that is SE Asia - mysticism, smells, poverty, riches, cruelty, passion. From that point I enjoyed reading it.
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