Historical Dictionary of Indonesia

Robert Cribb + Audrey Kahin

The Scarecrow Press 2004
A book review by Danny Yee © 2005 http://dannyreviews.com/
The 800 entries in the Historical Dictionary of Indonesia range from single sentence definitions ("Kyai", "Indonesia Raya") to extended four or five page entries ("Islam in Indonesia", "East Timor"), but most fall in the paragraph ("Banten", "Beri-Beri") to page and a half ("Shipping", "Netherlands, Constitutional Relationship with Indonesia") range. This makes browsing fun, though the dictionary is obviously a reference work first and foremost.

As well as people, places, products, organisations, and events, entries cover more abstract economic, social and cultural topics. There's excellent coverage of recent history, extending down to mid-2003, which makes the Historical Dictionary a decent reference for Indonesia generally, not just for its history.

Every entry includes references to sources, with numerical indices into an eighty page bibliography. This will help anyone seeking further information, but makes the dictionary vastly more useful for scholarly work.

Supplements to the main dictionary include a glossary of abbreviations and acronyms and lists of governors-general, ministers, rulers, cabinets, and office-holders. The dozen maps included are well-chosen but of low quality — the work is a complement to Cribb's Historical Atlas of Indonesia, not an alternative.

The dictionary is clearly laid out and easy to use. The one annoying feature is that entry headwords are in bold everywhere, with exceptions only for "Indonesia" and "Indonesian": this isn't a bad idea, but it needs to be done more intelligently, since it's just distracting to have every occurrence of words like "Suharto" and "Islam" in bold.

The Historical Dictionary of Indonesia will be a useful reference work for Indonesian specialists, or for any school teaching Indonesian or Southeast Asian history.

March 2005

External links:
- buy from Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk
Related reviews:
- Robert Cribb - Historical Atlas of Indonesia
- Robert Cribb - Digital Atlas of Indonesian History
- Audrey Kahin - Regional Dynamics of the Indonesian Revolution
- Audrey Kahin - Rebellion to Integration: West Sumatra and the Indonesian Polity
- Robert Cribb - The Indonesian Killings 1965-1966: Studies from Java and Bali
- books about Indonesia + Indonesian history
- more history
%T Historical Dictionary of Indonesia
%A Cribb, Robert
%A Kahin, Audrey
%I The Scarecrow Press
%D 2004
%O hardcover, 2nd edition
%G ISBN 0810849356
%P 582pp