About the book (from Goodreads):
With the eagerness of a keen, inveterate traveller, Karl Eskelund turns to the huge, sprawling group of islands now known as Indonesia, the youngest of the world’s self-governed states, and once the almost inexhaustible tresure-chest of Holland.
With his Chinese wife Chi-yun, the author visits Sumatra, Java, Borneo, Celebes, and Bali, each island reflecting its new freedom in different ways. It makes a fascinating scene: a naturally indolent people, with an ancient civilization of its own, struggling to retain the prosperity reached by its former masters, the Dutch, and yet raise its own standards on modern independent lines.
About the author (from Wikipedia):
Karl Johannes Eskelund (1918 – 1972) was a Danish journalist and best-selling author who wrote primarily in English.
In the 1950s and early 1960s, Eskelund consulted with his publisher on his “travel book projects”. They would choose an exotic location unfamiliar to Westerners. Eskelund would research a culture first-hand and write essays about his experiences. With Chi-Yun and their daughter, Mei-Mei, later a Playboy model, the Eskelunds would spend as long as a year exploring a culture as low-budget adventurers.
They would live like ordinary natives, suffering daily hardships and facing occasional dangers. Always, Eskelund would incorporate his experience, his family, and people he met in his essays. These were painted with his journalist’s eye for detail, and colored by his romantic world view and keen sense of social justice.
Eskelund met and interviewed major non-Western political figures, including:
Sukarno (Indonesian Adventure)
Jiichiro Matsumoto (Emperor’s New Clothes)
Nkrumah (Black Man’s Country)
Patrice Lumumba (While God Slept)
Cheddi Jagan (Revolt In the Tropics)
Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, the Shah of Iran (Behind the Peacock Throne).
Eskelund, known for his quick temper and impulsive behavior, once punched Chiang Ching-Kuo, later the President of Taiwan, in the nose.
Eskelund chronicled the experiences of the extraordinary people he interviewed:
Kai Arends, a truck farmer and informal expert on the process for making Ecuadorian shrunken heads.
Perpetual Mountain, a Japanese sumo wrestler who lost a main event because he was “too skinny”, weighing “only” 327 pounds.
Diego Rivera, a Mexican artist whose Rockefeller Center mural was destroyed because it portrayed Karl Marx and Lenin.
Henry Wong, a Chinese businessman socially ostracized for refusing to denounce his former American business partner.
“Pedro”, who made Eskelund understand the brutal oppression of Portuguese rule in Mozambique.
Jack, a Filipino Muslim, who brought Eskelund to a village where slavery was openly practiced.
Eskelund’s popularity waned as his adventurer persona and book journalism became anachronisms with the emergence of live television coverage during the Vietnam War. Eskelund’s own book chronicling the Vietnam War failed to attract an English publisher and two later books suffered a similar fate.
Prone to depression and alcoholism, Eskelund died by self-immolation virtually forgotten. Most of his books, including two bestsellers, are out of print. Twenty years after his death, Chi-Yun, also an author, published a memoir about their stormy and erotic marriage, Min Casanova.