In the Time of Madness

Richard Lloyd Parry, Author
Richard Lloyd Parry, Author . Grove $25 (315p) ISBN 978-0-8021-1808-0
Reviewed on: 09/05/2005
Release date: 12/01/2005
Paperback - 336 pages - 978-0-09-948145-4
Paperback - 315 pages - 978-0-224-07516-9
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Between 1996 and 1999, British foreign correspondent Parry repeatedly forayed into some of the worst strife rending the islands of Indonesia, a nation emerging tumultuously from the dictatorship of General Suharto. This boldly reported, introspective account—"a book about violence, and about being afraid"—is his attempt to make sense, however incompletely, of what happened in Java, Borneo and East Timor. In Borneo, Parry saw seven decapitated heads, among other horrors, when he went to report on "an ethnic war of scarcely imaginable savagery." He witnessed the collapse of the rupiah and the 1998 mass student protests in Jakarta on the occasion of Suharto's reappointment. As the East Timorese agitated for independence from Indonesian rule, Parry ventured into the East Timor jungle to meet with rebels. And when the independence referendum soon thereafter brought Indonesia's military might down on East Timor, a Portuguese colony until 1975, Parry holed up in the U.N. compound at the vortex of the violence. He laments his self-protecting decision to leave the compound, though, comparing himself unfavorably to fearless Polish journalist Ryszard Kapuscinski—"doused in benzene at the burning roadblocks." Holding Parry's writing to Kapuscinski's gold standard reveals it to be a little light on analysis and heavy on self-reflection, though it is clipped, vivid and honest. (Jan.)

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