A former Southeast Asia and Latin America correspondent for The Washington Post investigates how U.S. government intervention enabled the mass murder of hundreds of thousands of communists in Indonesia in 1965 and copycat terror programs in Latin America in its struggle against China and the Soviet Union during the Cold War.
Bevins isn’t necessarily surfacing groundbreaking new findings, but instead arguing that we’ve been looking at the past all wrong. Through empathetic reporting and fastidious archival research, he examines two overlooked periods of the Cold War ... Based on the outcome of the Cold War, it seems logical to conclude that—aside from some unfortunate missteps—the United States was a rational and effective actor. Bevins dispels this notion ... Unlike other Cold War accounts, Bevins also makes clear that its history is not just of countries, but people. He weaves in the narratives of individuals subsumed by the endless violence, often dragged around the world by the larger geopolitical forces out of their control ... By focusing on these narratives, he makes the complex transnational dynamics of the Cold War both easier to comprehend and more grounded in human stakes ... The Jakarta Method is a devastating critique of US hypocrisy during the Cold War, and a mournful hypothetical of what the world might have looked like if Third World movements had succeeded.
In brisk but assured prose, Bevins recounts how Brazil and Indonesia became 'the best allies that Washington’s foreign interventions had ever created.' The ruinous legacy of these policies, more than the specific acts of unspeakable violence that they engendered, is the book’s main subject ... Bevins is not the first to note that the Cold War frequently burned hot in the Third World, but he excels at showing the human costs of that epic ideological struggle.
... trenchant ... powerful ... He translates the findings of complex scholarly accounts into smooth and readable, if often heartbreaking, prose ... Bevins adroitly examines the massive military assistance program ... In examining the causes of the Indonesian genocide, Bevins covers a lot of ground concisely and persuasively...[with] sensitive treatment of victims and survivors in The Jakarta Method.