Category Archives: book

The Honest Truth about Dishonesty [A book review]

The (Honest) Truth About Dishonesty: How We Lie to Everyone — Especially Ourselves

By: Dan Ariely

Published June 5th 2012 by Harper

The New York Times bestselling author of Predictably Irrational and The Upside of Irrationality returns with thought-provoking work to challenge our preconceptions about dishonesty and urge us to take an honest look at ourselves.

Does the chance of getting caught affect how likely we are to cheat?
How do companies pave the way for dishonesty?
Does collaboration make us more honest or less so?
Does religion improve our honesty?
Most of us think of ourselves as honest, but, in fact, we all cheat. From Washington to Wall Street, the classroom to the workplace, unethical behavior is everywhere. None of us is immune, whether it’s the white lie to head off trouble or padding our expense reports. In The (Honest) Truth About Dishonesty, award-winning, bestselling author Dan Ariely turns his unique insight and innovative research to the question of dishonesty.

Generally, we assume that cheating, like most other decisions, is based on a rational cost-benefit analysis. But Ariely argues, and then demonstrates, that it’s actually the irrational forces that we don’t take into account that often determine whether we behave ethically or not. For every Enron or political bribe, there are countless puffed résumÉs, hidden commissions, and knockoff purses. In The (Honest) Truth About Dishonesty, Ariely shows why some things are easier to lie about; how getting caught matters less than we think; and how business practices pave the way for unethical behavior, both intentionally and unintentionally. Ariely explores how unethical behavior works in the personal, professional, and political worlds, and how it affects all of us, even as we think of ourselves as having high moral standards.

But all is not lost. Ariely also identifies what keeps us honest, pointing the way for achieving higher ethics in our everyday lives. With compelling personal and academic findings, The (Honest) Truth About Dishonesty will change the way we see ourselves, our actions, and others.

goodreads.com

Dan Ariely (so far) never ceases to impress me in his quest to unlock the secret of human irrationality. In his third book, he puts dishonesty on the centre stage. I read it, I am hooked, I love it.

First, I admire his passion and ability to narrate researches using layman language in a way that makes readers feel as if they’re involved in the journey. It makes me able to appreciate research more – you see something, no matter how trivial it is (correction: often trivial things, when examined, reveal hidden insights the most), that intrigues your interest, design the research creatively and voila you learn something new.

Second, related to the content of the book. Through experiments he and his colleagues conducted, he takes readers to question what generally people assume to be the cause of dishonesty and what can curb it.

Assumption A:

Personality. People cheat because they are (pathologically) dishonest people to begin with.

What research shows:

Nice people can cheat given some circumstances.

Assumption B:

Simple rational model of crime. What causes nice people to cheat is the benefit of cheating outweighing the cost. The bigger the benefit is (e.g. the amount of money) and the more unlikely for them to be caught, the more they cheat.

What research shows:

The amount of money and probability of being caught are not significant forces that shape cheating or dishonesty. Interestingly if the benefit reaped from cheating is too big, people tend not to cheat. From this point, Dan Ariely shows why simple model of crime is not adequate to explain dishonesty – it neglects the point that people want to see themselves having a good moral and their ‘ability’ to cheat depends on how they can reconcile or rationalise cheating with this desired view of self.

Then Dan Ariely opens our eyes on irrational forces which unconsciously drive people to cheat and rationalise their behaviour. Surprisingly simple everyday circumstances ‘tempt’ people to cheat, even as trivial as sporting counterfeit products. Even more surprising, sometimes, good values our society praise, such as altruism, creativity, can also drive people to cheat.

Based on these learnings, Dan Ariely also gives suggestions on ways to curb dishonesty. Some of the suggestions, he already tested it. However there are complex situations where he admits he does not have the silver bullets that can solve everything.

And that brings me to the third reason why I like this book so much: the author’s honesty that stays true to the book’s title “The (Honest) Truth about Dishonesty. Besides, honesty is a very important virtue in science or anything that is related to knowledge business. Knowledge is power. When that knowledge reflects the truth (less biased), it is useful – to help a lot to solve problems, better outcomes in respective field. Hence being objective is the gold standard any scientist or people who deal with knowledge should aspire to achieve.

In the last chapter, the author reveals this book’s limitation. He admits other factor such as cultural influences might play a big role on dishonesty and he realises readers might expect it to be given a big portion in this book. Apparently some experiments have been replicated in other countries yet it yields similar results.

This ‘honesty’ reflects on the conclusion takes account of the limitation of tests he used:

“Our matrix test exists outside any cultural context. That is, it’s not an engrained part of any social or cultural environment. Therefore, it tests the basic human capacity to be morally flexible and reframe situations and actions in ways that reflect positively on ourselves. Our daily activities, on the other hand, are entwined in a complex cultural context.”

On explanation on why there is no chapter about infidelity in this book:

“With all of this complexity, nuance, and social importance, you might wonder why there isn’t a chapter in this book about infidelity and why this rather fascinating topic is relegated to one small section. The problem is data. I generally like to stick to conclusions I can draw from experiments and data. Conducting experiments on infidelity would be nearly impossible, and the data by their very nature are difficult to estimate. This means that for now we are left to speculate – and only speculate – about infidelity.”

Back to the silver bullets problem, one might ask, “if there is no silver bullet, what’s the use of knowing all of these?” I think this book has served its purpose – widen our perspectives on dishonesty.

“… dishonesty is a prime example of our irrational tendencies. It’s pervasive; we don’t instinctively understand how it works its magic on us; and most important, we don’t see it ourselves.

The good news in all of this is that we are not helpless in the face of our human foibles (dishonesty included). Once we better understand what really causes our less-than-optimal behavior, we can’t start to discover ways to control our behavior and improve our outcomes.”

By understanding irrational forces that can drive us to cheat, it is now our task to start finding ways to control our behaviour. First, start from the man/woman in the mirror. Then, think critically whether as a citizen when reviewing policies or coming up with idea to solve social problems (e.g. how to prevent corruption, how to tackle institutionalised blackmail in law enforcement) or as an aspiring ‘Of The People, By The People, For The People’ policy makers when designing policies (e.g. how to stay loyal to the people instead of drifting to corruption and any practice that puts self-interest/elite’s interest above all).

Watch Dan Ariely’s eye-opening TED talk on the hidden reasons we think it’s OK to cheat or steal (sometimes).

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The Little Prince – a must-read for everybody especially grown ups [a book review]

Original Title: Le Petit Prince

Author: Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

Illustrator: Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

Cover Artist: Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

The Little Prince (French: ”Le Petit Prince”), first published in 1943, is a novella and the most famous work of the French aristocrat writer, poet and pioneering aviator Antoine de Saint-Exupéry (1900–1944, Mort pour la France).[Note 2]

The novella is both the most read and most translated book in the French language, and was voted the best book of the 20th century in France. Translated into more than 250 languages and dialects,[3] selling over a million copies per year with sales totaling over 200 million copies worldwide, it has become one of the best-selling books ever published.[4][5][6]

Saint-Exupéry, a laureate of several of France’s highest literary awards and a reserve military pilot at the start of the Second World War, wrote and illustrated the manuscript while exiled in the United States after the Fall of France. He had traveled there on a personal mission to convince its government to quickly enter the war against Nazi Germany. In the midst of personal upheavals and failing health he produced almost half of the writings he would be remembered for, including a tender tale of loneliness, friendship, love and loss, in the form of a young prince fallen to Earth.[7]

An earlier memoir by the author recounted his aviation experiences in the Sahara desert and he is thought to have drawn on those same experiences for use as plot elements in The Little Prince. Since first being published the novella has been adapted to various media over the decades, including audio recordingsstagescreenballet and operatic works

Source: wikipedia.com

I heard people raving about this book and I completely understand why!

“The Little Prince” is centred on a little prince who leaves the safety of his own tiny planet, embarks on an ‘intergalactical’ journey and experiences interesting encounters with grown ups in different planets. His story is narrated in his conversation with an aviator he met who made a forced landing due to engine failure in the Sahara dessert – a place, that is often portrayed as lonely, sad place where life will meet its end, is interestingly chosen to be the place of birth of enlightenment and connection. 

Combining innocent, honest and imaginative storytelling style with premise that rings true with what human always longs for, “The Little Prince” possesses an everlasting charm.

“The Little Prince”, through several types of grown up living in their own small ‘planets’, presents us anecdotes of grown ups’ desire and banalities seen through innocent eyes: greed, narcissism, quest for power, wisdom without real action, conformity without questioning. It begs us to question what growing up is all about – have we lost sight to what is important to conform with society’s expectation?

In a more essential level, The Little Prince reminds us about the importance of human connection and how we need it and are responsible to nurture it once it is formed. Connection is built through efforts and moments together. It is so personal that no one can fully grasp it unless you are the subject of that connection. Letting one’s guard down, the courage to experience, be it happiness, longing, suffering, loss or grief – that is what stops our lives from being like a machine. It may not be perfect and has its own problem but it makes our lives meaningful. 

Although this book was published a long time ago (1943), this book couldn’t be more relevant for today’s age. In today’s age that puts premium and value things based on tangible achievements and outlook, we often forget that “… you can only see things clearly with your heart. What is essential is invisible to the eye.”

“The Little Prince” is not just a children book. It is a book that everybody should read, especially grown ups and is definitely one of the books that I will revisit time after time.

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What money can’t and shouldn’t buy [a book review]

What Money Can’t Buy: The Moral Limits of The Markets

By Michael J. Sandel

Paper back, Open Market edition, 244 pages

Published April 2012 by Allen Lane

Should we pay children to read books or to get good grades? Should we allow corporations to pay for the right to pollute the atmosphere? Is it ethical to pay people to test risky new drugs or to donate their organs? What about hiring mercenaries to fight our wars? Auctioning admission to elite universities? Selling citizenship to immigrants willing to pay?In What Money Can’t Buy, Michael J. Sandel takes on one of the biggest ethical questions of our time: Is there something wrong with a world in which everything is for sale? If so, how can we prevent market values from reaching into spheres of life where they don’t belong? What are the moral limits of markets?In recent decades, market values have crowded out nonmarket norms in almost every aspect of life—medicine, education, government, law, art, sports, even family life and personal relations. Without quite realizing it, Sandel argues, we have drifted from having a market economy to being a market society. Is this where we want to be?In his New York Times bestseller Justice, Sandel showed himself to be a master at illuminating, with clarity and verve, the hard moral questions we confront in our everyday lives. Now, in What Money Can’t Buy, he provokes an essential discussion that we, in our market-driven age, need to have: What is the proper role of markets in a democratic society—and how can we protect the moral and civic goods that markets don’t honor and that money can’t buy?

In this market-driven age with the underlying belief of “The Invisible Hand” – market as the effective instrument to achieve public good, often we are struck with awe by how economists and market practitioners brilliantly think of ways to allocate goods in more efficient manners, finding new avenues to generate more revenue in ways that were unthinkable before. We tinkered with the idea of stationing economists or businessmen in our government to make everything more efficient, propagate development and prosperity for our country.

If belief in market is the ‘yin’, this book aims to be its ‘yang’. Through this book, the author wants to encourage us to think how far we market to permeate our society and aspects of public good that are at stake: “what is the proper role of markets in a democratic society, and how can we protect the moral and civic goods that markets do not honour and money cannot buy?”

What I like about the most about this book is the author makes his point without being preachy using layman lingo that reaches general audience (read: people who are not really familiar with philosophy).

He asks us to experiment by facing our moral conviction with jaw-dropping real-life market practice examples e.g. betting on strangers’ lives as demonstrated in janitors insurance practice (some corporates buy insurance policies on the lives of their workers and collect the death benefits when the employees die), schools pay students for each book they read to encourage reading, etc. In each case, Sandel poses readers with what “corruption” argument. First he lays down the civic goods and moral values at stake and what is the role of those civic goods and moral values. Then he argues how market practices can change and corrupt the meaning of honoured social practices including how we value ourselves and people around us in our society and how we view what we consider as a morally good thing to do (e.g. altruism, patriotism) by directing our thoughts to run “cost-benefit analysis” for everything.

Granted,  his arguments are sometimes loose and pose debatable aspects and this book leaves us with more questions than answers. However I think that is the whole point:  to provoke us to be and stay critical and question  in seeing how markets or commerce can “change the characters of goods they touch” that it is important to always have (public) discussions to deliberate “the meaning and purpose of goods” along with “the values that should govern them” in order to decide where the markets serve the public good – “where the markets belong” and where they corrupt the public good – “where they don’t”.

Here’s Amazon’s author interview with Michael Sandel explaining the premise of his book “What Money Can’t Buy”.”

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The Great Gatsby: brilliant, elusive, beautiful, ironic, melodious

"The Great Gatsby" by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Generally considered to be F. Scott Fitzgerald’s finest novel, The Great Gatsby is a consummate summary of the ‘roaring twenties’ and a devastating exposé of the shallowness of the ‘Jazz Age’. Through the narration of Nick Carraway, the reader is taken into the superficially glittering world of the mansions which lined the Long Island shore in the 1920’s, to encounter Nick’s cousin Daisy, her brash but wealthy husband Tom Buchanan, Jay Gatsby and the dark mystery which surrounds him.

The Great Gatsby is an undisputed classic of American literature from the period following the First World War, and is one of the great novels of the twentieth century.

I rarely read the introduction part which usually is a scholar analysis on the book. So my take on the premise of Great Gatsby might be different. After all each person has a different take on what he/she reads, depends on the circumstances that he/she’s in or what he/she believes.

For me, The Great Gatsby is a tale of people whose lives are not their own. Some belong to the past, some belong to an innocent dream of money and wealth as the promised land, some belong to their partner, some belong to revenge, some belong to the need to escape, some belong to the glittery nights, some belong to the addicting social validation. Neither of their friends are their true friends. Gatsby, a man whose imagination kept half of his life as his own but also gave the rest away to his past that took a life on its own. His life becomes his own fully when his story was contained by time and liberated by the memory of an observer.

In my point of view, this book, via its vivid narrative, seamlessly portrayed an insight about the clumsiness of our society (relinquishing their lives so that they are not their own). 5 words to describe my sentiment of this book: brilliant, elusive, beautiful, ironic, melodious.

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The Name of The Rose [A book review]

"The Name of The Rose" by Umberto Eco

“A brilliantly conceived adventure into another time” (San Francisco Chronicle) by critically acclaimed author Umberto Eco.

The year is 1327. Franciscans in a wealthy Italian abbey are suspected of heresy, and Brother William of Baskerville arrives to investigate. When his delicate mission is suddenly overshadowed by seven bizarre deaths, Brother William turns to the logic of Aristotle, the theology of Aquinas, and the empirical insights of Roger Bacon to find the killer. He collects evidence, deciphers secret symbols and coded manuscripts, and digs into the eerie labyrinth of the abbey (“where the most interesting things happen at night”) armed with a wry sense of humor and a ferocious curiosity.

When I read the local translation version, I was confused and avoided that book for so long (I felt stupid for not being able to comprehend it). Then one day, I braced myself to read the English version and it took my breath away. As I got into the middle of the book, it became harder and harder to put down. It’s a historical murder mystery set in an Italian abbey in 14th century. The story revolved around Franciscan friar William of Baskerville and his novice, Adso of Melk(the story’s told from the Adso’s point of view) trying to untangle the mystery (hint: truth is far more random and stranger than fiction) while struggling to face the corrupt Pope and his followers.

In the course of the story, I was tickled by questions like…

What is ‘truth’, does anyone have a right to determine ‘truth’, is it ‘static’ concept or is it naturally ‘bend-able’, do curiosity and faith go together, how we can define heresy, how we should defend our faith, will we be wiser if we stay on track obeying rules or if we let our guard down and commit sin sometimes?

This book, beyond satisfying our intellectual need (with William’s insightful analysis), but also serves as a reminder to stay critical – not blindly believe the ‘truth’ that is shoveled down to your throat regardless of the status of the person.

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The Longevity Project: Surprising Discoveries for Health and Long Life from the Landmark Eight-Decade Study [A book review]

This eight-decade longitudinal study thoroughly tested hypothesis and preconceived notion that we have about how to achieve a long life, e.g.  e.g. ‘is it true that an extrovert carefree person lives a longer life than the introvert and conscientious one?’, ‘is it true that staying single reduces our chance to live a longer life?’, ‘is it true that the way to achieve longer life is to avoid stress?’.

Our society is used to frame longevity issue in a symptom-tackling or checklist manner but this study dug deeper in answering why and exploring the dynamic interplay between many factors, e.g. personality, social environment, family condition, married/single, gender, etc (as the study followed the respondents’ lives since their childhood until they died).

Indeed the result of this study challenged our perception and belief about longevity.

Here’s the interview video with the authors explaining about their book and the trivia about which myths negated by this research .

 

I personally think that there are still a few ‘why’s that are yet to be answered (perhaps due to the limitation of the study) but I believe it is a good starting point for us and our society in framing our strategy and policy to promote health.

Note: this book provides some self-assessment tool to help us map where we are and what we should do to improve our health.

 

For more information, check out the author’s website.

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Poke the box – Initiate change and do it all the way NOW [A book review]

If you’re looking for scientific statistical analysis for the recipe of success, the book is definitely not for you. This book is a manifesto that aims to rally people to start innovating that not only stops at ideation but goes all the way, takes risk to execute it and find out if it works or not.

This book is to encourage us to abandon our fear of ‘this might not work’ but to really find out if it works. This book is also for managers or organizations that adhere to ‘failure free’ policy and opens their eyes that the world has evolved and sticking to ‘same old same old’ and ‘safe’ stuff will make you left behind.

I like the book mostly because of personal reason. It is relevant and it speaks to me.

In my industry that champions creativity, walking out of the meeting without any debate with client is often seen as the standard of success. Maybe we should change that. We know that we really poke the box (innovate) when we debate with the client because the idea is so new that the client feels anxious about it. We try our best. We take risk. We start and make it happen. If it fails, then we are responsible for our failure.

As Seth Godin wrote in this book,“Fail, fail, fail, succeed, fail, fail, succeed”. The idea is after failure, “Then start again. Then ship again.”

The final question to ponder upon…

Underground — Review

UndergroundUnderground by Haruki Murakami

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I found the review from Observer is the closest to express my sentiment about this book.

‘There is no artifice or pretension in Underground. There is no need for cleverness. What Murakami describes happens to ordinary people in a frighteningly ordinary way. And it is all the more bizarre for that.’

What Murakami assembled gave me, as a reader, a multi perspective view to a horror that most people and media only saw as a good vs evil phenomenon. It’s truly ordinary and honest. It shook me because as I flipped through the pages, I realized I could be one of them, both the victim and the perpetrator. I might feel and think the same thing if I were in their position: feeling disconnected, alienated from society. It doesn’t necessary yield that there’s something wrong in these individuals, but in essence, what’s going on in the society? What’s wrong with the society? How do the values and societal norms impact the members?

In this book, I think that’s the most fundamental learning. The Tokyo Gas Attack might happen as a result of this.

What will happen when society whose members have lost their sense of danger and care? What will happen when some people feel that cannot sync with society as as they feel the norms, the values, and their expected roles push them away from their essence as human being? It’s only natural that they will seek consolation elsewhere and renounce themselves from the society. What will happen if they seek consolation in the wrong place? Tragedy. Tokyo Gas Attack was only one of tragedies that could happen (and already happened)in this society.

One thing that I learned from this book is tragedy is not to be forgotten but for us, to learn something about ourselves. It’s a mirror that reflects our “dark side”, part of ourselves that we refuse to see. And in order to learn about it, we must not oversimplify it as the problem us vs them, but incorporate “them” to “us”. What’s going on in “US”?

View all my reviews

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My Top 15 Books

Fifteen books I’ve read that will always stick with me:

1. The Alchemist (Paulo Coelho)
2. The Madman (Khalil Gibran)
3. Portrait of An Artist As A Young Man (James Joyce)
4. Negeri Senja (Seno Gumira Ajidarma)
5. Anak Bajang Menggiring Angin (Sindhunata)
6. Mahabharata (Nyoman S. Pendit)
7. Centhini (Elizabeth Inandiak)
8. Candrakirana (Ajip Rosidi)
9. Gairah untuk Hidup dan Mati (Nasjah Djamin)
10. Hujan Bulan Juni (Sapardi Djoko Damono)
11. Toto Chan: The Little Girl At The Window (Tetsuko Kuroyanagi)
12. The Valkyries (Paulo Coelho)
13. Around The World in 80 days (Jules Verne)
14. Trilogi Rara Mendut – Genduk Duku – Lusi Lindri (Y.B. Mangunwijaya)
15. The Melancholy Death of Oyster Boy (Tim Burton)

#1, #5 were ‘gifts’ from a very precious person in the past
– #1 I treasured because it had changed my view of life: it was about life journey, encounter, wisdom, and the secret of universe
– #5, I swam deeper into his world when I read this. This book summed up his life.

#2 was my first Gibran’s book and I fell in love with his ‘wild’ thought yet centered around the truth, the beauty, and the madness of life.

#3, I could really relate myself with Stephen Dedalus (the main character). My mind wandered and really attracted to ‘suffering’ and ‘sadness, just like him. Also, I was mesmerized by the beauty of his words and how deep Joyce portrayed Dedalus’ struggle, compromising with the values of ‘right and wrong’ from the society and the wildness of his feeling and thought.

#4, #12, #13 I often found myself attracted to wanderers

#6, After watching Riri Riza’s “Drupadi”, I wanted to know more about Mahabharata epic so I bought this, but it turned out more than just a story. Up until now, I re-read this book several times and always try to contemplate based on the lesson of wisdom written there.

#7, #8;#14, basically I like reading tales, especially when the female character showed her strength, independence, and wit as a woman.

#9, contemplated thought, unresolved conflict, dilemma between what’s right and wrong in one of the most debatable topic in century: to stay alive facing shame and sadness or to die

#10, I felt his poems are very beautiful, simple, and down-to-earth. It’s what I need when I’m feeling dull or blue.

#11, because I miss my childhood, my innocence :p

#15, I like morbid stuff. That’s why I’m a dedicated great fan of Mr. Tim Burton :p

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Membongkar Manipulasi Sejarah: Kontroversi Pelaku dan Peristiwa

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Membongkar Manipulasi Sejarah: Kontroversi Pelaku dan Peristiwa
by Asvi Warman Adam
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Published: February 2009 by Penerbit Buku Kompas
Binding: Paperback, 257 pages
Setting: Indonesia
isbn: 9797094041 (isbn13: 9789797094041)

Description:

Ketika Orde Baru berakhir, gugatan terhadap sejarah bermunculan. Sejarah pun menjadi polemik karena fakta dan interpretasi selama ini dinilai tidak tepat, tidak lengkap, dan tidak jelas. Manipulasi sejarah dilakukan secara sistematis dan meluas demi kepentingan politik dan kekuasaan.

Mengapa Proklamator Sukarno tidak tampak saat pengibaran bendera Merah Putih 17 Agustus 1945 yang dimuat dalam buku “Pejuang dan Prajurit”? Kemudian, siapa yang melakukan rekayasa dalam buku “Bung Karno, Penyambung Lidah Rakyat Indonesia”, bahwa Sukarno tidak memerlukan Hatta dan Sjahrir, bahkan “peranan Hatta dalam sejarah tidak ada”? Mengapa peristiwa Serangan Umum 1 Maret 1949 digambarkan menyanjung Soeharto dan melupakan Sultan Hamengku Buwono IX sebagai konseptor? Bagaimana kisah diorama Monumen Nasional era Orde Baru yang penuh manipulasi sejarah?

Penulis melalui bukunya ini membeberkan kebenaran sejarah secara jujur. Bukan hanya membongkar manipulasi dan rekayasa sejarah Indonesia saja, tetapi juga menampilkan tokoh-tokoh pergerakan dengan kisah yang menyentuh hati. Kisah Agus Salim yang dikatakan menguasai “bahasa kambing dan kuda”. Kisah Mayor John Lie, seorang tokoh etnis Tionghoa, yang berani membersihkan ranjau laut. Juga kisah M.H. Thamrin seorang politikus santun yang “satu napas” dengan Bung Karno.

My review:
Buku ini merupakan kumpulan artikel Dr. Asvi Warman Adam berkaitan dengan manipulasi sejarah bangsa Indonesia. Dibagi dalam empat bagian besar (Nama yang mengukir Indonesia; Kontroversi Sejarah, Gerakan 30 September; Pelurusan Sejarah, Pendidikan Sejarah), berbekalkan wawasan yang luas dan kaya referensi literatur, Dr. Asvi Warman Adam membahas dan membongkar manipulasi sejarah yang terjadi di bangsa ini secara sistematis. Analisis yang tajam, dipaparkan dengan jelas tiap poin-poinnya, membuatnya enak untuk dibaca dan mengajak kita untuk lebih kritis terhadap sejarah. Menurut saya, buku ini tepat sekali untuk dibaca oleh pelajar-pelajar sejarah, baik yang di bangku sekolah (SD, SMP, SMA, kuliah), maupun masyarakat kita sekarang, sebab suka atau tidak suka, kita telah menjadi bagian dari produk sejarah yang dimanipulasi secara sistematis dan menyeluruh oleh rezim yang berkuasa selama 32 tahun.

Kalau dibilang tidak mendalam pembahasannya, rasanya saya kurang setuju, karena sesuai judul bukunya, tujuan buku ini adalah memaparkan argumen kritis terhadap kondisi persejarahan bangsa termasuk literatur yang tersedia. Untuk mengukur cakrawala pengetahuan sejarah, tidaklah cukup hanya dengan membaca satu literatur tetapi juga memperkaya diri dengan sumber-sumber lainnya, sebab sejarah bukanlah ilmu masa lampau semata, melainkan ilmu yang dapat terus diperbaharui seiring dengan penambahan fakta yang ditemukan serta perspektif yang digunakan untuk menilik fakta itu.