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  • Page extent: 412 pages
  • Size: 228 x 152 mm
  • Weight: 0.84 kg

Library of Congress

  • Dewey number: 959.803/092 B
  • Dewey version: 21
  • LC Classification: DS644.1.S56 E44 2001
  • LC Subject headings:
    • Soeharto,--1921-2008
    • Indonesia--Politics and government--1966-1998
    • Presidents--Indonesia--Biography

Library of Congress Record

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 (ISBN-13: 9780521773263 | ISBN-10: 0521773261)

DOI: 10.2277/0521773261

  • Also available in Paperback
  • Published February 2002

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Suharto is synonymous with modern Indonesia. He came to the leadership of Indonesia amidst extreme social upheaval and mass violence in 1966 and established an enduring regime known as the 'New Order'. He remained in command of the world's fourth most populous country until his dramatic fall from power in 1998. This book provides fascinating insights into a man who rose from humble beginnings to exert extraordinary power over a complex and volatile nation. He presented himself as an infallible father of Indonesia, yet he remained a mysterious and puzzling figure. He sought to transform Indonesia into a strong, united and economically prosperous nation, but he is remembered today for human rights abuses and profound corruption. The system of power he created collapsed with his decline, and he left a problematic legacy for Indonesia's current leaders as they seek to create a new beginning for their country.

• There are no comparable biographies, making this the first systematic analysis of the mysterious Suharto • It is based on interviews, archives, newspapers and written by one of the leading Indonesianists in the field • It will be essential for understanding Indonesia's current situation


Timeline; Introduction; 1. Beginnings and youth; 2. Soldier in the revolution; 3. Central Java commands, 1950–9; 4. High office, 1959–65; 5. The coup attempt; 6. The move to power, 1965–8; 7. Legitimation and consolidation, 1968–73; 8. Negotiating the problems of the New Order, 1973–83; 9. Ascendancy; 10. Decline, fall, accounting; 11. The man and his legacy; Glossary.


'Elson's Suharto, then, is indispensable reading for anyone committed to knowing and understanding more about Australia's most significant neighbour.' Chris Sidoti, Law Society Journal

'Elson's text is rich in description and I have seen few other accounts in English that deal with Suharto's early life in such detail … this piece of scholarship provides much needed research enquiries into Indonesian politics and a wider field.' International Affairs

'Suharto: A Political Biography by R. E. Elson is the first scholarly life of a leader who … has always been portrayed internationally as something of an enigma … Elson has scoured a range of new sources in his search for Suharto, from Dutch colonial archives to interviews with palace insiders, and his work is richly detailed.' The Times Literary Supplement

'Elson has written an important and comprehensive biography.' Journal of the Humanities and Social Sciences of Southeast Asia and Oceania

'… a timely and useful book …' The Journal of Energy Literature

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