An Endless Journey by Herawati Diah Equinox $120 When the Imperial Japanese Army invaded the Dutch East Indies, many subjects of the European colonialists welcomed the conquerors as fellow Asians. Among them was a young Indonesian woman journalist held in a camp outside Jakarta after her arrest on political charges by the Dutch secret police. Along with her mother, branded as a dangerous nationalist, and her sister, who had once gone to school in Japan, Herawati Diah was imprisoned for three months until the Japanese arrived. 'As a family, we were only freed after the colonial government unconditionally surrendered to Dai Nippon,' she writes. 'The happiness of Indonesia's young people and the nationalist movement ... didn't last long.' It soon became mandatory to fly the Japanese flag and to sing the Japanese national anthem. Next, men were taken away for forced labour in the archipelago or to Japan, Burma and Thailand. Then, the army started murdering intellectuals. The cheerfulness with which they had been greeted faded swiftly. 'The attitude of the Japanese towards the Indonesians made them disliked,' Diah writes. 'Anyone who didn't bow when he met a Japanese was beaten up. Cyclists had to dismount and pay their respects to them. If not, their bicycles were confiscated.' Such memories make this book readable. Diah was the first Indonesian woman to go to university in the US, which made her a minor celebrity when she entered journalism in Batavia. As a member of a family committed to an independent Indonesia, she had a cockpit seat in the revolution and uprising against Dutch rule. After independence, she travelled widely, especially to other former colonies struggling to rule themselves. There are interesting insights: does anyone know that Burma gained its freedom at 3.30am on January 4, 1948, because an astrologer chose it as an auspicious time? Diah is a friend of the enigmatic Sukarno, who led the anti-Dutch struggle, and his successor, Suharto. As an 'ink coolie' - the derogatory term used to describe journalists in Indonesia - Diah met and interviewed elderly visionaries who had opposed colonialism, such as India's Gandhi, and the rising generation who would continue the task, like Philippine foreign secretary Carlos Romulo. Some of her stories give a flavour of the times, be it a meeting of women of the press in Mexico City in the 1950s or a 1967 coronation in Tehran. Her husband, B.M. Diah, was ambassador to Czechoslovakia in the 1960s, then Britain and Thailand. But these aren't the key points of interest in her story. The focus is on building Indonesia, and she makes no secret where her sympathies lie. 'By the time Indonesia had entered the 1980s we were in the golden period later known as the New Order, led by the father of development, General Suharto,' she writes. There's no mention of the hundreds of thousands of people slain when the 'father of development' was putting down the pro-communist coup in the 1960s. Admittedly, she criticises the former dictator for his '32 years of autocratic rule' during which, incidentally, her husband was running the information ministry. This is an interesting book mainly because it gives long-forgotten details of the Indonesian independence movement from the point of view of a privileged insider. But there are indications that the grandmotherly writer isn't as cuddly as she seems. Coming from a prominent family, she was also part of the pre-independence elite. There are throwaway lines that many would consider racist, such as that about a black porter on her trans-American train who stole her apple. And how about this from the devout Muslim who makes numerous references to God: 'At Columbia University, it can be seen how varied Americans are, physically speaking. Minorities are very visible. American Jews, for example. During lectures, they are very aggressive and want to be number one. Many succeed.' An Endless Journey is an interesting, if biased, read.