A respected international journalist’s captivating reconnaissance of the divided psyche of the world’s most populous Muslim country, the historically moderate Indonesia.
In tones filled with wonder, surprise, and no judgment, Andrew Randall paints an aural portrait of the mosques, discotheques, prison cells, sacred volcanoes, temple ruins, and Indonesian people. Herry Nurdi, an Osama bin Laden hero-worshipping editor of an influential Islamist magazine presents to the Princeton-educated, Indian, foreign correspondent, and author Sadanand Dhume. Their experience is a journey of discovery into how a rise in democracy has led to a darkening of the country’s soul.
A nation once synonymous with tolerance, Indonesia, the fourth most populous country in the world, and the world's most populous Muslim country, now finds itself in the midst of a profound shift toward radical Islam. Sadanand Dhume, a Princeton-educated Indian atheist with a fondness for literary fiction and an interest in economic development, travels to Indonesia to find out how a society goes from broad inclusiveness to shrill intolerance in the space of a generation. His traveling companion is Herry Nurdi, a young Islamist who hero-worships Osama bin Laden. Together, their travels span mosques and discotheques, prison cells and dormitories, sacred volcanoes and temple ruins, forging an uneasy friendship that offers a first-hand look into the crucible of radical Islam's future.
With Indonesia's first presidential election in five years scheduled for April 2009, My Friend the Fanatic is a disturbing and poignant journey through the battleground for Islam's future.
I enjoyed this book quite a bit. The subject and presentation is interesting. It tells the story of the authors travels through Indonesia. The "fanatic " he travels with is an interesting fellow and provides a novel perspective on Islamization. The book itself feels a bit disjointed but that didn't really bother me because the subject was fascinating.