Lowy Institute Papers |
1 September 2020

Man of Contradictions: Joko Widodo and the Struggle to Remake Indonesia

The first English-language political biography of Joko Widodo, to be published on 1 September 2020 by Penguin Specials as a Lowy Institute Paper.

Ben Bland
Ben Bland

From a riverside shack to the presidential palace, Joko Widodo surged to the top of Indonesian politics on a wave of hope for change. However, six years into his presidency, the former furniture maker is struggling to deliver the reforms that Indonesia desperately needs. Despite promising to build Indonesia into an Asian powerhouse, Jokowi, as he is known, has faltered in the face of crises, from COVID-19 to an Islamist mass movement.

Man of Contradictions, the first English-language biography of Jokowi, argues that the president embodies the fundamental contradictions of modern Indonesia. He is caught between democracy and authoritarianism, openness and protectionism, Islam and pluralism. Jokowi’s incredible story shows what is possible in Indonesia – and it also shows the limits.

Man of Contradictions is available for purchase from 1 September 2020 from all good bookstores, and as an e-book.

About the Author

Ben Bland is Director of the Southeast Asia Program at the Lowy Institute. Ben was previously an award-winning correspondent for the Financial Times in Indonesia, China and Vietnam. His first book, Generation HK: Seeking Identity in China’s Shadow, was acclaimed for its prescient insights into the deepening political crisis in Hong Kong.

Banner image: Getty/Barcroft Media