A memorable book that will excite discussion in anthropological and geopolitical circles.

IN THE TIME OF MADNESS

INDONESIA ON THE EDGE OF CHAOS

Somber travels across the Indonesian archipelago—often a step ahead of the machete.

Readers who take their view of Indonesia from The Year of Living Dangerously aren’t far from the mark, if Parry’s account is to be trusted—and, as a correspondent for the Times of London, he has sterling credentials. Parry’s report begins in Borneo, long synonymous in the Western mind with all things savage. There seems a reason for all that: The Dayak of Borneo, the ethnic and political majority, harbor a particular hatred for a Muslim people among them called the Madurese, who are tough enough for Parry to liken them to Sicilians. As he travels through the island, Parry meets incident after incident of savagery, as in West Kalimantan, where the Dayaks had not only slaughtered the Madurese, but had also “ritually decapitated them, carried off their heads as trophies and eaten their hearts and livers.” Cannibalism in this day and age? You bet, Parry replies in a passage sure to provoke bad feelings among culturally relative types, pausing to acknowledge that the Dayaks’ ethnic-cleansing arguments are just modern enough to employ “the kind of consensus that has built up at various times about Romany Gypsies, or about Jews.” At another turning point, Parry is on hand for the “sack of Jakarta,” in which hundreds died in antigovernment demonstrations that led, in time, to the fall of Suharto—and the rise of a particularly militant kind of nationalist Islamism. The apex of the book involves Parry’s nadir, when, after one too many brushes with death on East Timor, where bike-gangish Indonesian paramilitary forces energetically butchered separatists and anyone else they came across, he fled, “because I was afraid of being killed or, more precisely, of dying in fear.” In such horrifying places, surely that’s about the only way there is to die.

A memorable book that will excite discussion in anthropological and geopolitical circles.

Pub Date: Jan. 20, 2006

ISBN: 0-8021-1808-9

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Grove

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2005

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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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A PEOPLE'S HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

For Howard Zinn, long-time civil rights and anti-war activist, history and ideology have a lot in common. Since he thinks that everything is in someone's interest, the historian—Zinn posits—has to figure out whose interests he or she is defining/defending/reconstructing (hence one of his previous books, The Politics of History). Zinn has no doubts about where he stands in this "people's history": "it is a history disrespectful of governments and respectful of people's movements of resistance." So what we get here, instead of the usual survey of wars, presidents, and institutions, is a survey of the usual rebellions, strikes, and protest movements. Zinn starts out by depicting the arrival of Columbus in North America from the standpoint of the Indians (which amounts to their standpoint as constructed from the observations of the Europeans); and, after easily establishing the cultural disharmony that ensued, he goes on to the importation of slaves into the colonies. Add the laborers and indentured servants that followed, plus women and later immigrants, and you have Zinn's amorphous constituency. To hear Zinn tell it, all anyone did in America at any time was to oppress or be oppressed; and so he obscures as much as his hated mainstream historical foes do—only in Zinn's case there is that absurd presumption that virtually everything that came to pass was the work of ruling-class planning: this amounts to one great indictment for conspiracy. Despite surface similarities, this is not a social history, since we get no sense of the fabric of life. Instead of negating the one-sided histories he detests, Zinn has merely reversed the image; the distortion remains.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1979

ISBN: 0061965588

Page Count: 772

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1979

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