Indonesia and the Birth of the Modern World


A story of staggering scope and drama, Revolusi is the masterful and definitive account of the epic revolution that sparked the decolonisation of the modern world.

'Astounding . . . history at its best' Yuval Harari
'Utterly compelling' Financial Times
'Superb' Guardian

On a sunny Friday morning in August 1945, a handful of tired people raised a homemade cotton flag and on behalf of 68 million compatriots announced the birth of a new nation: Indonesia.

Four million civilians had died during the Japanese wartime occupation that ousted its Dutch colonial regime. Another 200,000 people would lose their lives in the astonishingly brutal conflict that ensued - as the Dutch used savage violence to reassert their control, and as Britain and America became embroiled in pacifying Indonesia's guerrilla war of resistance: the 'Revolusi'. It was not until December 1949 that the newly created United Nations finally brought the conflict an end - and with it, 350 years of colonial rule - setting a precedent that would reshape the world.

Drawing on hundreds of interviews and eye-witness testimonies, David Van Reybrouck turns this vast and complex story into an utterly gripping narrative that is alive with human detail at every turn. A landmark publication, Revolusi shows Indonesia's struggle for independence to be one of the defining dramas of the twentieth century.

'A magnificent fusion of oral history, sparkling analysis, and historical wisdom. Revolusi has it all: a masterpiece' SEBASTIAN MALLABY

'One of the most unlikely and astonishing sagas ... a towering achievement' THOMAS MEANEY

'A magisterial but gripping account of events of urgent importance to us now' JASON BURKE

'At once vast and intimate, a history in colour' LAKSMI PAMUNTJAK

'A masterly display of the historian’s craft' J M COETZEE

'A wonderful and important book' PETER FRANKOPAN


  • An astounding feat of both research and storytelling. History at its best
    Yuval Harari

About the author

David Van Reybrouck

David Van Reybrouck is the author of Congo: The Epic History of a People, which won twenty prizes, sold over half a million copies and has been translated into a dozen languages. His book Against Elections has been translated into more than twenty languages and has led to the trial use of participatory democracy in numerous countries, including the Netherlands, Belgium and Spain. His plays Mission and Para have been performed across Europe, and his novel Zinc won the European Book Prize 2017. Revolusi was first published in the Netherlands, where it was a major bestseller. David Van Reybrouck has been described as 'one of the leading intellectuals in Europe' (Der Tagesspiegel) and 'one of the most brilliant European intellectuals of the moment' (Le Soir). He is Belgian, writes in Dutch and is based in Brussels.
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