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Economists with Guns: Authoritarian Development and U.S.-Indonesian Relations, 1960-1968

4.7 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0804756341
ISBN-10: 0804756341
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Editorial Reviews

Review

"[A] disturbing and illuminating book." —The Nation


"Simpson's book constitutes an important addition to our knowledge of the global Cold War. It is based on meticulous archival research, frames its detailed finding within a larger argument and is written in a direct and accessible prose style. This text will be of interest to scholars and students of U.S. foreign policy, the international Cold War, and the modern history of Southeast Asia and Indonesia."—Edward Aspinall, American Historical Review.


"Based upon a remarkable wealth of recently declassified U.S. government documents, this meticulous study permits both new insights into well-known events and revelations of unknown events. A major contribution to the study of Indonesia's postcolonial history and to the field of U.S. Cold War diplomacy, it will remain a standard reference work for many years to come." —John Roosa, University of British Columbia


"The author successfully applies the ideas of modernization theory to the Indonesian case, tracing America's ideologically informed notions of Indonesia's place in the regional and world economy. This comprehensive work offers a valuable new perspective." —Matthew Jones, University of Nottingham


"Bradley R. Simpson's outstanding new book, Economists with Guns, provides chilling new evidence of American complicity with what the CIA itself referred to as 'the worst mass killings' since the era of Hitler and Stalin Simpson's book is highly significant in one other respect: it shows the perils of authoritarian models of economic development and the fallaciousness of the military modernization theories promoted by Kennedy-era intellectuals, which continue to hold some credence among foreign policy elites today." —History News Network

About the Author

Bradley R. Simpson is Assistant Professor of History and International Affairs at Princeton University. He is also the director of a National Security Archive project to declassify U.S. documents concerning Indonesia and East Timor during the reign of General Suharto (1965-1998).
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 376 pages
  • Publisher: Stanford University Press (March 28, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0804756341
  • ISBN-13: 978-0804756341
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.2 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,045,921 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Authoritative, written in an accessible style. Founded in the most up to date research evidence for the period in question, it makes sense of this period of US involvement with post-colonial Indonesia. Reveals the extent of US complicity in the 1965 purge of alleged communists and communist sympathisers. It is a shocking but important book.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Excellent book that is indispensable to understanding one of the most horrific acts of genocide in the 20th Century.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
"Economists with Guns" (great title!) is an excellent reconstruction of U.S. policy toward Indonesia under the Kennedy and Johnson administrations, with a focus on U.S. development aid and military assistance. Indonesia was a key battleground of the Cold War -- with 100 million people, vast natural riches, a powerful Communist Pary, and an erratic nationalist President, it was courted by the U.S., the Soviet Union, and China alike. So much was at stake that Washington wooed Indonesia to the point of alienating NATO allies the Netherlands and the United Kingdom, which were locked in late-colonial confrontations with Indonesia in West New Guinea and Malaysia.

The book shows how the U.S. tried to use foreign aid to build up Indonesian anti-Communist groups and to link Indonesia to global markets and U.S.-supported security alliances. I took off one star mainly because the analysis, based largely on declassified U.S. documents, is heavily Washington-centric. Indonesian players have walk-on roles when they appear in U.S. memos and cables, but they don't star in the show. Unfortunately, presenting the story through a U.S. lens could mislead careless readers into thinking that Washington was pulling the strings in Jakarta. In reality, the U.S. embassy was often behind the curve and had little influence on local events, which unfolded according to their own logic. This situation only changed in 1966/67, when national bankruptcy forced the new military government to seek help from donors such as the U.S., Japan, and the IMF.

The book's DC-centric bias is most egregious in the retelling of the Indonesian Army's massacre of Communists in 1965/66. As the book makes clear, the U.S. cheered on and extended limited covert support to the killers. Our behavior was disgraceful.
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