Thursday, September 20, 2012

Indonesia Books

The Airmen and the Headhunters - by Judith M Heimann.  Excellent true account of two Allied aircrews who are shot down over central Borneo during WWII.  Based on extensive interviews and research, author describes their long months in the jungle and Bornean towns, hiding from the Japanese and helping touch off a  native resistance movement.

Amidst the Archipelago of the Spice Islands Sails the Woden Borne - by Allan Spencer.  A fictional tale of adventure and romance amongst foreign adventurers/entrepreneurs on the seas of modern Indonesia.  Goes on way too long and is way too mushy.
Bali: Sekala and Niskala- by Fred B Eiseman 2009.  All about Balinese religious beliefs, ceremonies, and ritual.  The author goes into a lot of detail.

Captain Cook’s Journal During the First Voyage Round the World - by James Cook.  Cook’s journal recounts, among many other things, Cook’s passage through the Torres Straight, weather difficulties, sickness, and refitting in Java, and departure for the Indian Ocean.  Fascinating.

Diansinkan the Exiled - by Martin Kerr.  Fictional novel about a Dutch expatriat who is arrested, then forced out of Sentani, West Papua by the Indonesian occupation.  He subsequently becomes involved with the rebel movement.

Eat, Pray, Love - by Elizabeth Gilbert.  This is the super-popular travel narrative.  Everybody else seems to love it, but I thought it was mostly awful.  The actual travel narration - maybe 1/3 of the book- is OK, but the other 2/3s is the author endlessness ly whining about her petty personal issues- and she comes off as a real nutter as far as I’m concerned!

The Expedition to Borneo of HMS Dido for Suppression of Piracy - by Cpt Henry Keppel.  Free kindle book by an English captain who spends several years charting the coast of Borneo, chasing pirates, and having interesting encounters with locals- from headhunters to rulers of local kingdoms.  Well written, down-to-earth with some humor, a good read.

The Fifth Season - by Kerry B Collison 2009.  The fictional stories of 3 women caught up in the post-Suharto violence in Indonesia.

A History of Modern Indonesia - by Adrian Vickers 2005.  Social and political history of Indonesia from colonial times to the Bali bombing.

The History of Sumatra Containing An Account of the Government, Laws, …  - by William Marsden

The Island of Bali is Littered with Prayers - by Jeremy Grimshaw 2009.  A music professor studies traditional music in Bali and brings back a gamelan set to teach Western students on.

The Indonesia Reader - by Tineke Hellwig et al.  Excellent collection of dozens historical essays, documents, and interviews that works its way through Indonesian history, from ancient times to the present.

In the Time of Madness - by Richard Lloyd Parry 2007.  Foreign correspondent Parry relates his coverage of the social troubles in Indonesia at the end of Suharto’s reign, and his resulting emotional turmoil.  He travels to Papua, meets headhunters in Borneo, and treks into the hills of East Timor to meet with the rebel front.

The Indian Ocean Tsunami - by Pradyumna P Karan et al 2010.  Analysis of the response and recovery efforts of government and NGOs after the 2004 tsunami.

The Invisible Palace - by Jose Manuel Tesoro 2004.  True account of events surrounding a famous Java murder of journalist Fuad Mohammad Syafruddin in 1996.

Javanese Lives - by Walter L Williams 1991.  Interviews tell the life stories of dozens of (now elderly) regular Javanese men and women from all walks of life.  Excellent book; it really gives one perspective into life in Indo.

The Killing Sea - by Richard Lewis 2008.  A very readable fictional story of two teenagers- an American and an Indonesian- who struggle to survive and find their families after the 2004 tsunami.

The Long Oppression - by G.L. Simons.  History of government repression in Indonesia.  A grim reality check that covers the more unpleasant aspects of Indonesian history from colonial times to Habibie’s tenure. 

Love and Death in Bali - by Vicki Baum.  A classic tale of the violent colonial takeover of Bali and the changes in the lives of ordinary Balinese.  Very readable; one of the best Indonesia books in my opinion.

The Malay Archipelago - by Alfred Russel Wallace 1854.  Wallace bumbles his way around almost all the major islands of Indonesia, enraptured with the wildlife.  This is a wonderful book to read as you travel along in Indo.  Free online.

Oil Patch: Living in Oil Company Compounds from Desert to Jungle - by Gary Gentry.  A fun, short, irreverent book that gives good insight into life as an expat oil worker in Libya in the 80’s.  Also includes some short stories on Indonesia.

Playing the Poor Man - by Thor Kerr 2010.  Fictional tale of a foreign freelance journalist and an NGO volunteer who encounter corruption, poverty, social unrest, and danger in post-Suharto Jakarta.

The Spice Garden - by Michael Vatikiotis 2003.  The villagers of a small fictional Maluku island turn against each other in post-Suharto religious violence.

A Taste for Green Tangerines - by Barbara Bisco.  Awkwardly/abruptly written in a couple spots, but not a bad story if you stick with it.  A London-bred anthropologist goes to work with the Dayaks at a ‘green resort’ project in Borneo.  Deadly snakebites, corruption, ethnic clashes, wildfires, romance, and personal growth ensue…

Throwin Way Leg - by Tim Flannery.  A humorous account of a modern-day scientist’s search for new mammals and new experiences in PNG.

Through Central Borneo; an Account of Two Years Travel in the Land of the Headhunters between 1913 and 1917 - by Carl Lumholtz.  I found this to be the most readable and engaging of the old Borneo river-and-jungle traveler’s tales that are available free online.

The Timor Man - by Kerry B Collison 1999.  Fictional tale of army officers, coup plotters, and spies during East Timor’s last half-century or so of history.  From an author with very in-depth knowledge of Indonesian politics.

Wanderings Among South Sea Savages  -by H Wilfrid Walker.  The author’s 1910 journey through Fiji, the Philippines Sulu Islands, and Borneo.  Available free online.

Where the Strange Trails Go Down - by E Alexander Powell.  Author’s 1879 travels through Indonesia and Southeast Asia.

With Pythons and HeadHunters in Borneo- by Brian Row McNamee.  A young travel writer’s 1983 quest into the jungles of Borneo.  A bit whiny.

Wyvern - by A A Attanasio.  Epic novel follows the fortunes of a half-Dayak, half-Dutch boy who is raised as a jungle shaman and goes on to worldwide piratical adventures and high society.

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