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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.

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  • John S.
  • Seattle, WA United States
  • 09-01-14

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.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

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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.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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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.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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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.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Fascinating look hidden away places of Indonesia

I frequently travel to remote parts of Indonesia. This book captures so much of what I've experienced. Well written and wonderfully read.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Very informative and entertaining book

Any additional comments?

I like this book. The author is very candid on her impressions and made some effort to put things on context. I wish somebody would write something like this for my country (Philippines). Indonesians and Filipinos seems to have a lot of similarities.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Capturing the essence of Indonesia

What made the experience of listening to Indonesia, Etc. the most enjoyable?

If you want to know, I mean really start to know Indonesia this book is a great place to start. It wont tell you everything, no book can. What it does do is give you a varied and in-depth information about the people, politics, and culture of Indonesia. I dare say no other book provides such an accurate snapshot of Indonesian culture. The author is informed, non-judgmental, and has the years of experience necessary to explain some of the nuances of the culture.

What does Jan Cramer bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

A good narrator that fits ones impressions and expectations of the the author.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Indonesian speakers beware!!

What made the experience of listening to Indonesia, Etc. the most enjoyable?

I really enjoyed the perspective of the writer. Having lived in Indonesia, Jakarta only. It was nice to hear more about the other provinces.

Who would you have cast as narrator instead of Jan Cramer?

I would have preferred to have the narrator pronounce the Indonesia words closer to the correct Indonesian pronunciation. There were far too many times the narrator's pronunciation of Indonesian words were so far from correct, I had no idea what she was saying. It forced me to rewind the narration and listen two or three times before I was able to decipher the word. I don't know why the author allowed this to happen.

Any additional comments?

The story was compelling enough for me to struggle through the poor pronunciation. Please Dr. Pisani, don't let anyone convince you to Anglicize the pronunciation of Indonesian words in books about Indonesia.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Excellent journey through Indonesia

As a foreign entrepreneur in Indonesia, this book had given me a glimpse of Indonesia that I would have never known

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So true....

I'm an America who moved to Indonesia 2 1/2 years ago and listened to this book shortly after arriving here. I found Pisani's insights into this country so helpful as I adjusted to the culture. There have been numerous times when her descriptions about places and events have leapt into my mind as I've encountered them in real life. And, last month, now that I've lived here a while and have somewhat adjusted to no longer being a "newbie", I listened to it again! A lot more sunk in this second time around given everything I've experienced over the past several years. I have recommended this book to every new expat that I've met. There's no better introduction to life in Indonesia than Indonesia, Etc.