In Borneo, I saw heads severed from their bodies and men eating human flesh. In Jakarta, I saw burned corpses in the street, and shots were fired around and towards me. But then I went to East Timor, where I discovered that such experience is never externalised, only absorbed, and that it builds up inside one, like a toxin.
In East Timor, I became afraid, and couldn't control my fear. I ran away, and afterwards I was ashamed.? In the last years of the 20th century, Richard Lloyd Parry found himself in the vast island nation of Indonesia, one of the most alluring, mysterious, and violent countries in the world. For thirty-two years, it had been paralysed by the grip of the dictator and mystic, General Suharto. But now the age of Suharto was reaching its end, and giving way to a new era of chaos and superstition - the 'In The Time Of Madness', predicted centuries ago by poets and seers. On the island of Borneo, tribesmen embarked on a savage war of headhunting and cannibalism. Vast jungles burned uncontrollably; money lost its value; there were plane crashes and volcanic eruptions. After the tumultuous fall of Suharto came the vote on independence from Indonesia for the tiny, occupied country of East Timor. And it was here, trapped in the besieged compound of the United Nations, that Lloyd Parry reached his own painful, personal crisis.
This is book of extraordinary immediacy and honesty, a riveting account of travels in the heart of darkness, a feat of storytelling in the tradition of Conrad, Orwell and Ryszard Kapuscinski. Richard Lloyd Parry has lived in Tokyo for ten years as a foreign correspondent, first for The Independent and now The Times. He has reported from twenty-four countries, including Iraq, Afghanistan, Kosovo and North Korea. His work has also appeared in Granta, the London Review of Books and the New York Times Magazine.