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Historical Dictionary of East Timor

Geoffrey C. Gunn

East Timor, also known as Timor-Leste, comprises the eastern half of the island of Timor, located at the eastern end of the Indonesian archipelago. East Timor was among the last of colonial territories to become independent, and it actually had to be liberated twice. First, after more than four centuries of Portuguese colonial rule, it achieved independence in 1975 only to be invaded and occupied by Indonesia. After a blood-soaked occupation of 24 years and following intense international pressure, the Jakarta-regime only grudgingly allowed East Timor to form a nation of its own in 1999. Since then, the new state has faced further armed clashes and is only now able to seriously engage in nation-building. Historical Dictionary of East Timor relates the turbulent history of this country through a chronology, an introductory essay, an expansive bibliography, and over 200 cross-referenced dictionary entries on significant persons, events, places, organizations, and other aspects of East Timor history from the earliest times to the present. « less more »
Scarecrow Press
Pages: 300Size: 6 x 9
978-0-8108-6754-3 • Hardback • December 2010 • $81.00 • (£54.95)
978-0-8108-7518-0 • eBook • December 2010 • $77.00 • (£49.95)
Geoffrey C. Gunn is professor of International Relations in the Faculty of Economics at Nagasaki University. He has served as a 'consultant sociologist' to the United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor, as well as advising the UN-backed East Timor 'Truth Commission.'
This is a much-needed introduction to East Timor (or, locally, Timor-Leste) for students and researchers. Gunn, a faculty member in economics at the University of Nagasaki and former consultant to the United Nations in East Timor, has done a good job of collecting and distilling the history of the small nation, which achieved independence in 2002. A large bibliography of both English and Portuguese books and articles will serve researchers well. The chronology and historical essay that are standard parts of the publisher's numerous Historical Dictionaries series introduce the country to those unfamiliar with East Timor. East Timor is at the eastern end of the Indonesian archipelago. It occupies the eastern end of the Island of Timor, which is the Malay word for "east." (Leste is the Portuguese word for "east," so whatever name of the country is used, it means East East.) In addition to the eastern end, a small enclave on the northern side of the island, named Oecusse, bounded by the sea and surrounded by Indonesia, is also part of the country. Indonesia still refuses to allow a land connection between the two parts of East Timor. In addition to Portuguese, Tetum, an Austronesian language, is the other national language. All of this is explained in the volume, as is other biographical, historical, and geographical information. If all readers know about East Timor are the names of two Nobel Peace Prize winners, Carlos Filipe Ximenes Belo and José Ramos-Horta, then this book will bring them up to speed. Recommended for academic and large public libraries.

For those with an interest in Timor-Leste, from students to more established scholars, this historical dictionary is an exceptionally useful and very engaging read. It is one of those rare books that it is perfectly legitimate to dip in and out of, rather than read from beginning to end, and it is enjoyable to do so. All of the major places, events and people are well covered and virtually all readers will find new and useful information about Timor-Leste here. For those of us who enjoy encyclopaedic reading for its own general value, this is an engaging read; for readers specifically interested in Timor-Leste, it is a must....Gunn is probably the premier historian of Timor-Leste and certainly holds that position in English accounts of the place....This work should rightfully be the standard reference point for matters Timor-Leste. For more sanguine readers, it remains a very enjoyable reacquaintance and should occasionally constitute lively points of discussion for those interested in matters East Timorese.
Journal of Contemporary Asia