In This Review

A Not-So-Distant Horror: Mass Violence in East Timor
A Not-So-Distant Horror: Mass Violence in East Timor
By Joseph Nevins
Cornell University Press, 2005, 296 pp

This book is an unlikely combination of the sort of in-depth analysis expected of a dissertation and the sensationalism of a true-crime story. Nevins did extensive research as he sought to expose the abuses of the Indonesian army during its 24-year occupation of East Timor. His work is given added authority by firsthand accounts of his visits to the scenes of the horrors and his interviews with victims. The story of East Timor after the collapse of Portuguese colonial rule is a confusing one, since it is unclear whether the communists would have taken over if the Indonesian army had not intervened. Now, with the Cold War long over, the horrors of the Indonesian occupation stand out, and the concern about communism's advance seems less important -- leaving Nevins free to concentrate on his story of human suffering. He also denounces the governments of the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, Japan, and others as complicit in the crimes, despite their claims that they were legitimately fighting to check the spread of communism.