Anyone travelling to Indonesia, or who has an interest in this part of the world, will enjoy reading the succinctly explained history of the Indonesian archipelago. Commencing with the paleolithic period it extends up to the present day, covering much of the complexities and cultural overlays of the region. Readers will be pleasantly surprised by the central role that Indonesia has taken in the development of trade and ideas between Asia and Europe going right the way back to the most ancient of times. The battles between the middle Kingdoms and fiefdoms of Sumatra and Java, and the inter-regional island trade draws some startling comparisons between Indonesia and the formation of Europe at the end of the dark ages. The vital role of the regions spice trade in the economic wave of the European renaissance period joins the fates of disparate nations together.
Written in a flowing style it manages to cover a great deal of ground while not becoming bogged down in too much detail. The political and religious positioning of Bali and the southern archipelago sheds new light and interest on what has become a somewhat jaded travel experience for many. The author has travelled extensively for many years throughout Indonesia and brings to life the geography and people, and the remarkable way that religion, colonisation and resistance has forged a nation from an archipelago of separate islands and distinct cultures and language. The horrific behaviour of European’s exploitation is not shied away from, but is put in the context of social and political upheavals at play in Europe at the time. To really enjoy Indonesia and understand their cultural distinctiveness in the past and the present, this book is both a wonderful story and an excellent place to begin.
Sultans, Spices, and Tsunamis: The Incredible Story of the World's Largest Archipelago Indonesia is by far the largest nation in Southeast Asia and one of the largest countries in the world and is fourth largest in terms of population. Indonesian history and culture are especially relevant today as the Island nation is an emerging power in the region with a dynamic new leader. This fascinating book tells the story of Indonesia as a narrative of kings, traders, missionaries, soldiers and revolutionaries, featuring stormy sea crossings, fiery volcanoes, and the occasional tiger. It recounts the colorful visits of foreign travelers who have passed through these shores for many centuries—from Chinese Buddhist pilgrims and Dutch adventurers to English sea captains and American movie stars.