H-Net Reviews, August 2011

In Greek mythology Atlas was condemned to hold the heavens all alone. Yet most atlases are team work; if one scholar writes the text, the maps at least are drawn by teams of professionals. Not so with Robert Cribb’s Atlas of Indonesian History, first published by NIAS Press [sic.] in 2000. It was a titanic one-man project worthy of Atlas himself.

In Greek mythology Atlas was condemned to hold the heavens all alone. Yet most atlases are team work; if one scholar writes the text, the maps at least are drawn by teams of professionals. Not so with Robert Cribb’s Atlas of Indonesian History, first published by NIAS Press [sic.] in 2000. It was a titanic one-man project worthy of Atlas himself. Cribb drew all the maps on his computer and connected them intimately with his own precisely balanced text. Now Cribb and NIAS Press have achieved another huge endeavor by adapting the atlas to a digital world, while thoroughly revising and updating it. It sells as a package with three components: a DVD with a user-friendly 2010 version of the atlas as a whole; a printed user guide; and privileged access to a Web site where it is being updated, and is searchable with familiar Google software. … 

The text is of vintage Cribb quality, building on his expertise as a historian specializing in contemporary Indonesian political history and long-term environmental history […]. Cribb is a detached historian, with no apparent agenda except the scientific one, and perhaps environmental protection. Yet he is not the kind of historian who lists one damn fact after the other. He asks pertinent questions, dismisses flawed answers one after one, and concludes with a sound and clear judgment.

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