This book provides a history of East Timor, with the focus on the Indonesian invasion of 1975 and Australia's troubled relationship with the country ever since. It gives an often eye-witness account of the rise if the militias, their close links to the military, and the tide of violence that broke following the historic referendum of August 1999.
The author is in a unique position to tell this story. He was in charge of Australia's major aid project in East Timor from 1996 to 1999. He travelled widely around the island and his many local staff told him what was really happening. Taudevin was asked by Australian government officials to report to them on what he saw. Initially sympathetic to the Indonesian position, he became revolted by the extensive violence he found. The Australian government claimed his reports of atrocities were endangering its relationships with Indonesia. The Militias threatened his life. Accused of spying by the Indonesian army, he was ordered out of East Timor in April 1999.
The book ends with Taudevin's return to Dili in October 1999.