"Give me a dollar or I'll spit on you."
Indonesia the nation-state is a miraculous and unlikely construction. At first sight, the material for national unity could not be more unpromising; its history is marred by deep and often bloody internal disputation based on ideology, ethnicity, religion, and region. Yet Indonesia, as concept and as nation-state, endures and is, perhaps, beginning once again to thrive. R. E. Elson, one of the leading figures in the field, seeks to discover the origins of the idea of Indonesia in the mid-nineteenth century and explores its often vexed and troubled trajectory through to the present time. He examines why Indonesia exists, against the odds, as a nation-state, and in what different forms it has existed, seeking to explain the nation's character as it has struggled for unity and purpose. The analysis provides a chronological narrative which examines Indonesian politics, its political elites and their relationship with the Indonesian people.