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My Friend the Fanatic

3.68  ·  Rating details ·  84 ratings  ·  26 reviews
My Friend the Fanatic is a portrait of the world’s most populous Muslim country, Indonesia, a land once synonymous with tolerance that finds itself in the midst of a profound shift toward radical Islam. This portrait is painted through the travels of a pair of unlikely protagonists. Sadanand Dhume, the author, is a foreign correspondent, an Indian atheist with a fondness f ...more
288 pages
Published 2008 by Text Publishing
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3.68  · 
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 ·  84 ratings  ·  26 reviews

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Will Byrnes
Dhume’s thesis is stated on page 36, “that Indonesia was being shaped by two essentially opposed forces, Islamisation and globalization, and that of the two Islam was the more important.” Dhume offers us a series of peeks into some aspects of both as he travels the country.

I wanted to like this book. I had acquired it as a freebie through the GoodReads Giveaway program. And it seems reasonable to presume that if you want that good fortune to repeat it might behoove one to offer up a very positi

Dhume asks, "Is moderation measured by a movement's goals, or by the means to achieve them?" Well, what is a Muslim's goal? A Christian's? A Buddhist's? Does a moderate Buddhist have an easier time being moderate than a Muslim has at being moderate? Are monotheists more prone to fanaticism than polytheists or atheists? How do we moderate moderation? These are good questions, but they sure took long in coming.

My Friend the Fanatic reserved the goodies for those who made it through the first two
May 14, 2009 rated it liked it
Recommended to C. by: goodreads giveaways
I was eleven years old on September 11 2001, and my strongest memory of the aftermath of that day is of sitting in front of the TV watching women and children in a Middle Eastern country somewhere dancing and celebrating in the streets. I still remember with absolute clarity one woman folding up a piece of some sort of greasy-looking pancake with a plastic fork and feeding it into a girl's mouth as they yelled and screamed and jumped up and down with happiness. All the females were wearing heads ...more
Catharina Nawangpalupi
This is a comprehensive story and reflection based on Dhume's trip with Herry Nurdin (Sabili). Dhume kept his promise to write about Islam objectively. He has successfully shown his intelligence to keep the story flowing very well and smoothly while he adds his thought-provoking comments here and there.
Although there are some inaccurate data, they're somewhat forgivable. This review about contemporary Indonesia from a foreign journalist's perspective is very interesting to read.
Apr 27, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: first-reads, 2009
As someone who knows very little about Indonesia, I was grateful for the brief overview of Indonesian history. Dhume's writing has a conversational tone, and it was interesting to read his descriptions of the interactions he had with the various groups he encountered during his travels. However, while this book gives the reader a unique "insiders" view of Indonesia, I found the title to be a little misleading because I expected to learn more about the views of journalist Herry Nurdi, the fanatic ...more
A very interesting look at author Sadanand Dhumes experiences living in and traveling around Indonesia for several years, part of the time spent traveling with his "fanatic" friend and guide Herry. The writing in this book is very engrossing, covering both the big picture of politics and religion in Indonesia, as well as a host of tiny details about life and people that made the story real. Humorous as well as sad, funny yet frightening. I learned a great deal about Indonesia and will be interes ...more
Pranay Gupte
Sep 02, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Sadanand Dhume has shown his writing talents since he was very young. Later, his work as a foreign correspondent in Southeast Asia and India was stellar. This book displays his erudition, his ability to reach out to people and get them to reveal their deepest feelings, and his marvelous deftness with words. I'm looking forward to his next book, and the one after that......
Apr 01, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)
So okay, I'm not exactly unbiased.
Apr 27, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: giveaways
ARC received through the First Reads giveaway program.

I don't really know much about Indonesia. Dhume gave me some background on the country (certainly enough to pique my curiosity), but not a complete picture. That's OK, though. That wasn't really the purpose of this book. Dhume offers a series of snapshots of today's Indonesia, with a bit of background for context. I agree with an earlier reviewer who said that the title is misleading. It certainly is. The subject is interesting, but the title
Apr 28, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: firstreads
In the last twenty years, the Islamists have changed Indonesia significantly; we see it in the headscarves wearing by women in every corner of the country, the adoption of some Islamic law in the national law, the conflict in several districts because of their insistence to impose the sharia, etc.

Guided by “ a friend” from Sabili, a hardline Islamic magazine, the author traveled to Java, South Sulawesi, Kalimantan and Ambon to visit the Islamists’ pesantren/Islamic schools and talked to their l
Aamil Syed
Jan 21, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2014, non-fiction
This is a really nice book. You wouldn't expect such an upbeat narration in a book about so serious a topic. Sadanand writes in a very friendly and personal manner; the way one would write to a friend. He jokes about stuff and wonders aloud about the strange contradictions in what he's investigating. He also struggles to make sense of it all and quite openly so. It's like you're sitting with a friend around a campfire and he is regaling you with the stories of his travels and experiences. At tim ...more
Eric Stone
Jul 10, 2011 rated it really liked it
Possibly more interesting to me than it would be to someone who isn't more familiar with Indonesia. It lacks the sensationalism that the title and subtitle might lead one to expect, which was fine by me as it gave me a picture of a side of a country I already know reasonably well and love - a somewhat frightening picture at that. It was nicely written, funny at times, upsetting at others and wide-ranging in what it tells a reader about Indonesia. Not a good introduction to the country for someon ...more
Nicki Markus
May 08, 2009 rated it really liked it
I wasn't sure what to expect from this book, but in the end I found it to be a very interesting read.
I remember the Bali bombings etc being on TV on the news but that's about it and I know very little about Islam and Indonesian life and politics.
This book gave an thought-provoking overview of the rise of Islam in Indonesia and the view points of different parties.
While interesting from a political point of the view, the book also managed to remain an enjoyable read, keeping interest in the peopl
May 27, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: library_books, travel
Coulda been a contender!
Interesting premise of traveling through Indonesia with an orthodox muslim, comparing impressions. However, Dhume doesn't successfully make the transition from longtime financial journalist to (mainstream) non-fiction author; I found myself regularly having trouble getting traction, with all the arcane politics (complete with acronyms!). Moreover, the beginning and ending sections seem designed to highlight the author's connections to global intelligensia (yawn). His obse
Dr. M
Sadanand Dhume has done a meticulous job of searching the interiors of Islamic fanaticism in Indonesia, purported to hold a tolerant version of Islam. Another book that has dealt with this theme is V.S Naipaul's "Among the believers". Dhume's search was sincere and deep. The book, written in a personal, but balanced style gives a glimpse of how beliefs can drag a country backwards to 7th Century culturally, educationally and in all aspects of development. Secularists and apologists of beliefs sh ...more
Ann Tonks
Apr 06, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Having read a number of books on Islam, this was the first based in Indonesia. Written by a wordly and informed foreign correspondent, it contains a fascinating combination of historical information about the development of Islamism in Indonesia plus conversations with a variety of committed Islamist.

All of it ultimately is deeply depressing as the writer concludes that the modernisation of Indonesia is simply a veil over the increase islamisation of the country, leaving women, non-Muslim minor
Dec 24, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
i used to figure, hells bells, live and let live, but this book about the "moderate" islam of indonesia reminds me so much of 13th century france, where they stone, persecute, and various other nasty things to those of the "wrong faith". it seems many islamists use democracy for all its worth, to become the boss and start sharia. i guess that's one use of democracy, and i guess if were made boss, i would start some sharia of my own, but on the other hand, my sharia would involve compulsory novel ...more
Praveen Peethambaran
Feb 10, 2013 rated it really liked it
Disturbing journey into contemporary Indonesian society, where-in revivalists sponsored by petro-dollars are changing the social dynamics in an adverse manner.
Indonesia, long known for its moderate face of Islam where muslims lived in their faiths and still kept their names from the Hindu-Buddhist past. They were tolerant to the minority Hindus, Christians and Buddhists...

But now things are changing....
And they are changing for worse...
Donna Jo Atwood
A very interesting book about the take-over of Indonesia by Radical Islamics. Very readable.
Use for 10.5B
Handrio Nurhan
Jan 08, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Even as Indonesian myself, I learned A LOT from this book...a must read for those who care about our dear country.
R.K. Byers
Sep 02, 2010 rated it really liked it
Dhume made Herry a more sympathetic figure that he probably would have wanted to.
Apr 01, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)  ·  review of another edition
My utterly unbiased opinion.
Aditya Khanna
May 07, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: home
What a journey this book has been... from uneventful to thrilling, more shocking at times than disturbing, and draining.
Sopeti Sankar
Dec 16, 2012 rated it really liked it
Interesting narrative of the effects of Saudi-style Ismalisation and Globalisation in Indonesia ...
Nitin Ghatkar
Aug 15, 2014 rated it really liked it
This book fulfilled my quest to know Indonesia. the most populous Muslim Population Nation in the world.
Jan 15, 2010 rated it really liked it
Travels with Islamists in Indonesia, as they battle with reasonable people. it's so easy to see the shallowness and intellectual poverty of the Islamist position.
rated it liked it
May 12, 2009
prada prada
rated it it was ok
Mar 15, 2017
Abhishek Paul
rated it it was amazing
Jun 05, 2016
rated it really liked it
Jul 10, 2015
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Sadanand Dhume is a writer and journalist based in Washington, DC. His first book, My Friend the Fanatic: Travels with an Indonesian Islamist, is published by Text Publishing in Australia, and by Skyhorse Publishing, an affiliate of W. W. Norton, in the United States.

Part travelogue, part memoir, My Friend the Fanatic charts the rise of radical Islam in Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim