A soldier’s historian

What Media Says


About Nugroho Notosusanto,
Written by Kate McGregor, and was originally published in Inside Indonesia,
Jul 30, 2007


The New Order regime relied for much of its legitimacy on official representations of history. Its version of the coup attempt of 1965, for example, described the event as a communist plot. This was of crucial importance for justifying the military take-over between 1965-67, as well as for the mass killing of communists in this period. Histories stressing military leadership in the 1945-49 independence struggle were also important for justifying the military’s combined social, political and defence roles (dwifungsi). To produce these histories, the regime turned repeatedly to one man, Nugroho Notosusanto.

As a trained historian, Nugroho offered these projects academic credibility. Every country has official historians, and historians often work for the military or research military history. But Nugroho was different. He devoted himself to producing history for a regime dominated by the military. This earned him the enduring scorn of other Indonesian historians.

Why was Nugroho so devoted to the military? To understand, we need to reflect on his life story.

Read the full article here.