Hamlet, Semar and The Godfather. "Abdurrahman Wahid: Muslim Democrat, Indonesian President" by Greg Barton, "The Politics of Indonesia (Second Edition)" by Damien Kingsbury and "Reformasi: The Struggle for Power in Post-Soeharto Indonesia" by Kevin O'Rourke. [review]
Have the Bali bombings completely changed our view of Indonesia? Although obviously not designed to do so, these three books provide necessary background on how such an atrocity might be possible in the near-anarchic circumstances of that country. They also give a wide-ranging and informative picture of the present state of Indonesia in all its chaos and uncertainty. They make sobering reading, as if Indonesian politics is a mixture of Shakespearean tragedy, Javanese shadow play and gangster drama: "Hamlet", Semar and "The Godfather". In sum, read Barton for a vivid character sketch of a fascinating might-have-been; Kingsbury for important background and a broad-brush approach; O’Rourke for piquant details about the many commercial scandals and the cynical behaviour of the Indonesian élite. Perhaps Indonesia deserves better leadership than it is currently getting, but it also needs helpful cooperation and understanding after recent events.