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The Year of Living Dangerously Hardcover – 1979


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 296 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press; Book Club edition (1979)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312896239
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312896232
  • Product Dimensions: 21.1 x 14.2 x 3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,932,579 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 11 Aug. 2001
Format: Paperback
'The Year Of Living Dangerously' by Christopher J. Koch
1960's Indonesia; a time of political insecurity, shattered illusions and unfulfilled promises. Idealistic Australian/Chinese Photojournalist Billy Kwan is committed to social change in a country where the government tells it's starving people to eat rats while newly erected monuments and government buildings tower over the shantytowns of Jakarta. However, as the country descends into turmoil under President Sukarno's regime, Billy becomes disillusioned as he learns that he is no puppet master and that individuals have a desire to create their own destiny.
Synopsis: The novel opens with the arrival of Guy Hamilton, an Anglo/Australian journalist on his first foreign posting. Billy is immediately drawn to the ambitious Hamilton and begins to manipulate him into reporting the 'real' Indonesia. While other journalists live isolated and ignorant in Jakarta's luxurious 'Westernised' hotel, reporting on official society functions, Kwan is Hamilton's 'eyes' to the poverty and politics of a country on the verge of economic and political collapse. The pair become an influential journalistic force: Billy introduces Hamilton to key political players while Hamilton files reports on the poverty stricken Jakarta Billy wants to expose. However, loyalties are tested when Billy introduces Hamilton to his 'girlfriend' Jill Bryant, a secretary at the British Embassy. Mistrust, fears of commitment and ambition have disastrous consequences for the 'perfect team.'
Why read it?
Koch creates a superb ensemble of characters that rise and fall in the reader's affection through out the novel. At points, fellow journalists Wally O'Sullivan and Pete Curtis are repulsive, at others, highly sympathetic.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Malik Hills on 30 Sept. 2012
Format: Paperback
This is a beautifully written book, convincingly recreating an era of transition in one of the world's most fascinating (and remarkably little known about) nations. Like a long, languorous day in Jakarta, the story builds slowly, at times stiflingly, as tensions mount and tempers flare until it suddenly breaks forth in a violent cataclysm. If you read nothing else about Indonesia, and let's be honest there isn't an awful lot out there for the general western reader to read on Indonesia, read this book, it is a good story and well worth reading on its own merit.

Why the parsimony then with the stars? Why not five? Well I wouldn't argue with anyone who would give five stars, my only reservation is that Koch, like Conrad and Hemingway to a certain extent, seems unable to fully draw 'native' characters, in this case Indonesians. The perspective, and its completely understandable Koch is not Indonesian after all, is entirely through the eyes of westerners (Kwan is Australian, half-Chinese), the local characters merely form part of the background against which the western characters perform. It's a little bit nit-picking I agree, so don't let it put you off reading this superb book.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Sophie Masson VINE VOICE on 3 Jan. 2008
Format: Paperback
This is the best novel about Indonesia that I've ever read(and I was born there.) Capturing not only the sights, sounds, smells, history but the very soul of Java, this magnificent novel stands up to re-reading after re-reading. It is infinitely better, richer, more textured, than the quite good film which was made of it. Very highly recommended.
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By Michael on 15 Jun. 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
CJ Koch deserves wider recognition. Both this and Highways to a War are stunning accounts of international events with a cast of highly credible characters. Recommended.
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