Item description for The Invisible Palace: The True Story of a Journalist's Murder in Java by José Manuel Tesoro...
ONE AUGUST NIGHT IN 1996, on a rural highway in Java, an investigative journalist was beaten to death by unknown assailants. Two months later, police arrested a high-school drop-out and put him on trial for the reporter's murder. One problem: the accused killer had never met his alleged victim. Entwined in local rivalries, media intrigues, and the long-held beliefs of many Javanese in fate, myth and magic, the killing of Fuad Muhammad Syafruddin spawned an unprecedented criminal investigation, a gripping courtroom drama and a nationwide controversy that signaled the iron rule of Indonesia's longtime president, Suharto, was ending. Researched and written over two years from confidential documents, court records and exclusive interviews with police, investigators, lawyers, witnesses and survivors, this unique account reconstructs the legal and political drama surrounding one of Indonesia's most famous unsolved murders. Combining journalism, travel writing and true crime, The Invisible Palace is an engrossing and deeply described study of media, politics and justice in the contemporary developing world. JOS MANUEL TESORO was Jakarta correspondent for Asiaweek magazine from 1997 to 2000. Born in Manila, he has lived and traveled widely in Indonesia and Southeast Asia, reporting for Asiaweek, Wired, East and The Economist Intelligence Unit.
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Reviews - What do customers think about The Invisible Palace: The True Story of a Journalist's Murder in Java?
remarkable story; cracking read Sep 25, 2004
This book gives a great flavour of Java, by someone who has clearly spent a lot of time there. It's a true story, but reads like a novel: larger-than-life characters, bizarre plot twists, an exotic location, and a murder mystery. Set in Indonesia during 1996-1997, the country is just experiencing the first rumblings of political discontent. A journalist, Udin, is killed after writing stories critical of a local politician. The subsequent investigation turns into a ham-fisted cover-up, complete with a dim-witted fall guy threatened into confessing a ficticious crime of passion, but Udin's colleagues and a band of ambitious lawyers expose the plot.
The author carefully sets the scene, explaining the background to the action as he goes along. The journalistic digressions - on Javanese belief in magic, on Suharto's family dealings, on the static and corrupt nature of Indonesian "electoral" politics - are among the most interesting elements here. The bits on Indonesian police procedures, and the warped legal system are also great.
The book is most successful in explaining how an authoritarian regime like Indonesia's actually works in practice - how the benefits of power are shared out, who loses out, and how ordinary people are forced to compromise. In the Udin case, in the end, a lot of people refused to compromise. A year later - after the 1998 riots - Suharto was gone.