Customer Review

13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Truly Outstanding, Excellent Account!, 9 Feb 2005
This review is from: The Open Cage: The Ordeal of the Irian Jaya Hostages: Murder and Survival in the Jungles of Irian Jaya (Paperback)
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This is one of the very best books ever written about West Papua!
The author was the leader of a British-Indonesian zoologist expedition into the remote highlands of the Lorentz Nature Reseve. The entire team was kidnapped by OPM guerillas fighting for West Papuan independence, and held hostage for several months until being freed by the Indonesian army - minus the two Indonesian male members of the expedition who were executed by the OPM.
This could easily have been turned into a shallow account of hardship and horror, but instead the author has used the experience to give us probably the most interesting and insightful account of West Papua ever. Rather than just concentrating on how the hostages themselves felt during their ordeal, he is painting a thorough picture of the background to the kidnapping, and excellent descriptions of the Papuans' psyche and motivations. His observations are sharp and balanced, and instead of pointing fingers at any party, he leaves us with an understanding of the tragic circumtances that lead to the kidnap, and the hopeless situation that continues in Papua to this day.
We also get to "experience" the down-to-earth lifestyle that was a horrible ordeal to the hostages, but is in fact the everyday reality of life in the extremely isolated Papuan highlands.
Having spent months in West Papua myself, I also found the book entirely free of factual errors, hype and exaggrations that abound in other travelogues of this "exotic" place.
I would highly recommend this book to anyone planning a longer trek through the mountains of Papua.
Don't let it put you off visiting - there has been no similar incident ever since. Read it for its description of life in this singular, remote part of the World.
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