SUKARNO, AN AU­TO­BI­OG­RA­PHY AS TOLD TO CINDY ADAMS

1965

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Hard­core his­to­ri­ans might sneer at Sukarno’s au­to­bi­og­ra­phy, which aims to present the found­ing pres­i­dent in an ap­peal­ing light to West­ern au­di­ences. This book was writ­ten by Amer­i­can jour­nal­ist and gos­sip colum­nist, Cindy Adams. Her hus­band, co­me­dian Joey Adams, was as­signed by US Pres­i­dent John F. Kennedy in 1961 as a cul­tural am­bas­sador to South­east Asia. His work took him to Jakarta’s State Palace, where he and Cindy met Sukarno. At that time, Cindy was in her early 30s and Sukarno, a no­to­ri­ous lecher, was struck by her beauty. He agreed to an in­ter­view and was im­pressed with her sub­se­quent ar­ti­cle. Af­ter re­turn­ing to New York, she re­ceived a mes­sage from the Amer­i­can am­bas­sador: Sukarno wanted her back in In­done­sia to write his au­to­bi­og­ra­phy.

She spent sev­eral weeks in­ter­view­ing him and lis­ten­ing to his life story. The re­sult­ing book, pub­lished when Sukarno lost his grip on power in 1965, is hugely en­ter­tain­ing. His love of In­done­sia shines through. So too do his van­ity, hu­mour and un­in­hib­ited can­dour. Peo­ple seek­ing more aca­demic his­to­ries of In­done­sia could con­sider The

Re­li­gion of Java (1960) by Clif­ford Geertz,

The De­cline of Con­sti­tu­tional Democ­racy in In­done­sia (1962) by Herbert Feith, and

A His­tory of Mod­ern In­done­sia since c.1200 (3rd edi­tion, 2001) by M.C. Rick­lefs.

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