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Indonesia, Etc.: Exploring the Improbable Nation | [Elizabeth Pisani]

Indonesia, Etc.: Exploring the Improbable Nation

Bewitched by Indonesia for twenty-five years, Elizabeth Pisani recently traveled 26,000 miles around the archipelago in search of the links that bind this impossibly disparate nation. Fearless and funny, Pisani shares her deck space with pigs and cows, bunks down in a sulfurous volcano, and takes tea with a corpse. Along the way, she observes Big Men with child brides, debates corruption and cannibalism, and ponders "sticky" traditions that cannot be erased.
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Publisher's Summary

An entertaining and thought-provoking portrait of Indonesia: a rich, dynamic, and often maddening nation awash with contradictions. Jakarta tweets more than any other city on earth, but 80 million Indonesians live without electricity and many of its communities still share in ritual sacrifices. Declaring independence in 1945, Indonesia said it would "work out the details of the transfer of power etc. as soon as possible." With over 300 ethnic groups spread across 13,500 islands, the world's fourth most populous nation has been working on that "etc." ever since.

Bewitched by Indonesia for twenty-five years, Elizabeth Pisani recently traveled 26,000 miles around the archipelago in search of the links that bind this impossibly disparate nation. Fearless and funny, Pisani shares her deck space with pigs and cows, bunks down in a sulfurous volcano, and takes tea with a corpse. Along the way, she observes Big Men with child brides, debates corruption and cannibalism, and ponders "sticky" traditions that cannot be erased.

©2014 Elizabeth Pisani (P)2014 Audible Inc.

What Members Say

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  •  
    John S. Seattle, WA United States 09-01-14
    John S. Seattle, WA United States 09-01-14 Member Since 2013
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Bill Bryson channels Margaret Mead"

    An excellent travel narrative of the nation, beyond the tourist zones of Jakarta and Bali. Pisani visits some fairly remote areas, running across ethnicities that even the folks in the cities aren't aware of themselves ("It's all 'tribal' out there ..."). While she does a great job in relating stories that weren't so funny at the time, but she can laugh at them now (such as going back into a quicksand-like mudhole to retrieve a sandal out of sheer determination); however, the sections of the legal system, and ecological problems, were a bit grim.

    Definitely recommended for an insight into the country from a westerner who has spent serious time there, speaking the language fluently. Audio narrator was well-matched to the material.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    matthew san diego, CA, United States 03-05-15
    matthew san diego, CA, United States 03-05-15 Member Since 2014

    I am an English teacher in China and can now read and write some Chinese.I have been to 13 countries on 4 continents.I am an avid audiophile

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    Story
    "Cultural diversity melts away"

    Elizabeth is another person who can speak the major language and traverses every corner of this vast group of islands with an eye toward seeing the distinct differences, as well as the government's attempt to spread Javanese as the dominant and sophisticated culture. I've never been outside the airport in Jakarta, but an island with 100 million people has got to be just chaos. Then the government wants to move people to Kalimantan. Culturally different people. Elizabeth is a brave lady riding boats between islands. Thanks for the adventure in between my own.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Matthew Stavros Sydney, Australia 05-03-15
    Matthew Stavros Sydney, Australia 05-03-15 Member Since 2010
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    "Wonderful, evocotive"

    This is a truly inspiring travel account of Indonesia, written by an English expat who's love for the country (and profound understanding) oozes from every line. Audible needs many more books on Indonesia, but this is a very good start.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Eric Leventhal Arthen 04-19-15 Member Since 2015
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    "fascinating travel, cultural and people story"

    this gave me a great sense of a sprawling, diverse country that is so far away and in many ways so different from me. it is told with compassion, humor, insight and deep honesty.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    James San Diego, US, Canada 12-10-14
    James San Diego, US, Canada 12-10-14 Member Since 2000
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    "Pompous, Superior-to-all-others, British overdose"
    This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

    People who love NPR and the BBC.


    What do you think your next listen will be?

    Anything but this. I quit after chapter 4. And I really wanted to like it.


    How did the narrator detract from the book?

    Way too properly British for an author who admits she spent relatively little time in England.


    You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

    I am traveling to Indonesia in about a month, so I thought this Audible title would be a good introduction. There is some useful information about Indonesian culture.. It's just tough to get past the attitude and the author's gratuitous slams against American institutions. She obviously has a Euro-socialist mindset and she can't resist any opportunity to force her socialist views on the listener, even if they have nothing to do with the story.


    1 of 3 people found this review helpful
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