Young Soeharto: The Making of a Soldier, 1921-1945

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Paperback: $84.00
ISBN-13: 9789814881005
Published: May 2021

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548 pages
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  • About the Book
  • When a reluctant President Sukarno gave Lt Gen Soeharto full executive authority in March 1966, Indonesia was a deeply divided nation, fractured along ideological, class, religious and ethnic lines. Soeharto took a country in chaos, the largest in Southeast Asia, and transformed it into one of the “Asian miracle” economies—only to leave it back on the brink of ruin when he was forced from office thirty-two years later.

    Drawing on his astonishing range of interviews with leading Indonesian generals, former Imperial Japanese Army officers and men who served in the Dutch colonial army, as well as years of patient research in Dutch, Japanese, British, Indonesian and US archives, David Jenkins brings vividly to life the story of how a socially reticent but exceptionally determined young man from rural Java began his rise to power—an ascent which would be capped by thirty years (1968–98) as President of Indonesia, the fourth most populous nation on earth. Soeharto was one of Asia’s most brutal, most durable, most avaricious and most successful dictators. In the course of examining those aspects of his character, this book provides an accessible, highly readable introduction to the complex, but dramatic and utterly absorbing, social, political, religious, economic and military factors that have shaped, and which continue to shape, Indonesia.

    “Jenkins has succeeded, in a manner like none before him, to convey the feel, spirit, energy and texture of these formative years of Indonesia’s making, marked by violence, triumph and calamitous failure, and brutal intrigue. Jenkins’s Soeharto reveals the man… and his long, mostly quiet emergence, in brilliant contextual detail, and shows how he developed his extraordinary capacity for political adroitness and concise, decisive leadership.”
    – Emeritus Professor R.E. Elson, author of Suharto: A Political Biography (Cambridge University Press, 2001)

    “David Jenkins [is] the leading historian of the Indonesian military.”
    —The late Professor Benedict Anderson, author of Java in a Time of Revolution: Occupation and Resistance, 1944-1946
    (Cornell University Press, 1972)

    “An extremely valuable contribution to the literature on Indonesian political history… Using Soeharto’s life as a connecting thread, David Jenkins weaves together a marvelous and colourful study of Indonesia political and military life …. fascinating.”
    —Dr Peter McCawley, author of Banking on the Future of Asia and the Pacific: 50 Years of the Asian Development Bank
    (Asian Development Bank, 2017)

  • About the Author(s)
    • JENKINS, DAVID, Author

      David Jenkins, who graduated in Law (1965) and Arts (1967) from Melbourne University, was a foreign correspondent in Southeast Asia for many years. He was a co-winner of a Walkley Award for his contribution to the Herald’s coverage from Jakarta and East Timor during the violent 1999 referendum on independence.