Cover image for From the place of the dead : the epic struggles of Bishop Belo of East Timor
From the place of the dead : the epic struggles of Bishop Belo of East Timor
Kohen, Arnold S.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : St. Martin's Press, 1999.
Physical Description:
xix, 331 pages : illustrations, map ; 24 cm
Personal Subject:
Format :


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BX4705.B2924 K64 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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The Indonesian invasion and occupation of East Timor in 1975 was followed by one of the worst crimes against humanity in recent decades. The world's attention was focused on this tiny Southeast Asian country and its titanic struggle for independence. No one was more critical to that struggle than Bishop Carlos Belo, whose efforts for a peaceful resolution of the conflict were rewarded by the 1996 Nobel Peace Prize, the first ever awarded to a Catholic bishop. Arnold Kohen's superb biography of Belo gives us the best available account of recent events in East Timor, an understanding of the issues involved, and the story of one man's heroic attempts to avert catastrophe for his land and his people.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Readers who follow international news, particularly news of human-rights tragedies, will know of the struggles of East Timor, which was taken over by force by Indonesia in the '70s and has been seeking independence ever since. Perhaps as many as 250,000 of the region's 700,000 people have been killed over the past quarter century; East Timor's Roman Catholic prelate, Bishop Barlos Filipe Ximenes Belo, and Jose Ramos Horta, the chief spokesman for its resistance movement, received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1996. There seems to be some hope that the departure of Suharto, the longtime Indonesian leader, may create an opportunity for East Timor to reach autonomy and ultimately independence, but international political and economic considerations are ambiguous. So this biography of Bishop Belo and narrative of his nation's struggle is quite timely. Kohen is a former investigative reporter for NBC News who has written for The Nation and many leading daily newspapers; he has covered East Timor for more than 20 years and had substantial access to Bishop Belo in crafting this involving story. --Mary Carroll

Publisher's Weekly Review

Kohen's absorbing biography of Roman Catholic bishop Carlos Filipe Belo, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1996 for his human rights work in East Timor, should draw public attention to the tragedy of the island territory and former Portuguese colony, which was brutally invaded in 1975 by Indonesia and has been occupied by it ever since. A former NBC News reporter who has written for the Nation, Kohen traveled with Bishop Belo in the lush but impoverished and terrorized East Timor countryside between 1993 and 1997. He shows that Belo's crusade for East Timor's independence has deep personal roots. In 1948, at the age of three, Belo lost his father, who died as a result of severe wartime beatings inflicted by the Japanese. In 1981, Belo's brother, uncles and cousins were used as "human shields," forced to march in front of Indonesian troops to flush out guerrillas. Kohen attributes Belo's fierce sense of identity and stubbornness (he persevered despite death threats in a land where so many other activists have been killed) to his membership in one of East Timor's oldest ethnic groups, the Makassae. He exposes Vatican arm-twisting intended to bully Belo into silence and details the bishop's frustrating relations with the Clinton administration, which has mostly remained silent about East Timor. Kohen reports that East Timor is gradually being taken over by Indonesian immigrants in much the same way Tibet has been colonized by ChinaÄhence the Dalai Lama's eloquent introduction, supporting a people "trying to keep their own culture and identity alive." (June) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Leader for peace in a tortured country, Bishop Belo of East Timor became the first Catholic bishop to receive the Nobel Peace Prize in 1996. Foremost among leaders of his homeland, he has worked to end the suffering of his people. This sympathetic biography portrays the bishop and his country in the years before and during the Indonesian occupation, which has brought death and despair to so many. It reveals American support for Indonesia during this period and examines the Vatican's complicated role. Investigative reporter Kohen traces the bishop's life from his village origins through his priesthood to his national and international role as his people's chief pastor. Like Oscar Romero, assassinated while celebrating mass in El Salvador; Desmond Tutu; and Archbishop Dom Helder Camara of Brazil, Belo provides an unforgettable example of how a person of faith can change the world. The book includes an introduction by the Dalai Lama and a foreword by former Episcopal bishop of New York Paul Moore. For public and academic libraries.ÄJohn R. Leech, New York (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.