An excellent country profile and a jarring reminder that Indonesians continue to fight for democratic rights today,...

INDONESIA

THE LONG OPPRESSION

A fine, grim politicaleconomic history of Indonesia, from the first colonial state to the appointment of Habibie after the Suharto meltdown, from Simons (Libya: The Struggle for Survival, not reviewed).

Fine because Simons is a thorough yet fluent and stirring writer, with an eye for attentiongrabbing material and also a humane, progressive outlook; grim in that the Indonesian people, all 200 million of them, have had a very rude time of it, since the Portuguese first set up camp there in the 16th century right up until today. Simons starts his coverage with a gruesome overview of human-rights abuses—mass killings and mass arrests by the government are simply a part of everyday life in Indonesia—and the economic degradation of the Indonesian citizenry during the period of Suharto’s rule, aided and abetted by American and European political interests. It is impossible for Simons not to simmer with rage as he piles up evidence upon evidence of torture and murder, at the army's hands, of a broad swath of Indonesians: anyone in opposition to Suharto and plenty of innocents as well—a cruel sampling that seemingly touched each of the country’s 300 ethnic groups. Using ample documentation, Simons demonstrates just how culpable the US is for the bloodletting (conservatively estimated at 250,000 dead civilians) that brought Suharto to power, as well as for the arms dealing and the political and economic stranglehold that kept him in power for 30 years. Finally, Simons argues that sheer corruption and political sycophancy brought on the turmoil that capsized the regime, only to have it replaced by Suharto's lieutenant.

An excellent country profile and a jarring reminder that Indonesians continue to fight for democratic rights today, something not lost on the East Timorese, the latest, most public victims of Indonesian aggression.

Pub Date: May 8, 2000

ISBN: 0-312-22982-8

Page Count: 304

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2000

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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Occasionally wonky but overall a good case for how the dismal science can make the world less—well, dismal.

GOOD ECONOMICS FOR HARD TIMES

“Quality of life means more than just consumption”: Two MIT economists urge that a smarter, more politically aware economics be brought to bear on social issues.

It’s no secret, write Banerjee and Duflo (co-authors: Poor Economics: A Radical Rethinking of the Way To Fight Global Poverty, 2011), that “we seem to have fallen on hard times.” Immigration, trade, inequality, and taxation problems present themselves daily, and they seem to be intractable. Economics can be put to use in figuring out these big-issue questions. Data can be adduced, for example, to answer the question of whether immigration tends to suppress wages. The answer: “There is no evidence low-skilled migration to rich countries drives wage and employment down for the natives.” In fact, it opens up opportunities for those natives by freeing them to look for better work. The problem becomes thornier when it comes to the matter of free trade; as the authors observe, “left-behind people live in left-behind places,” which explains why regional poverty descended on Appalachia when so many manufacturing jobs left for China in the age of globalism, leaving behind not just left-behind people but also people ripe for exploitation by nationalist politicians. The authors add, interestingly, that the same thing occurred in parts of Germany, Spain, and Norway that fell victim to the “China shock.” In what they call a “slightly technical aside,” they build a case for addressing trade issues not with trade wars but with consumption taxes: “It makes no sense to ask agricultural workers to lose their jobs just so steelworkers can keep theirs, which is what tariffs accomplish.” Policymakers might want to consider such counsel, especially when it is coupled with the observation that free trade benefits workers in poor countries but punishes workers in rich ones.

Occasionally wonky but overall a good case for how the dismal science can make the world less—well, dismal.

Pub Date: Nov. 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-61039-950-0

Page Count: 432

Publisher: PublicAffairs

Review Posted Online: Aug. 29, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2019

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