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Scorched Earth

Peacekeeping in Timor during a campaign of death and destruction

Authors: Tammy Pemper
(6 customer reviews)
Australian Peacekeeper
C Format

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A dramatic story of the forgotten heroes who faced down the military might of a neighbouring giant.
Peter Watt, Bestselling Australian Author

An exceptional book that fills the gap in our 24 years of horrific terror.
Bi-Hali Gusmao, Vice-President of Veterans Institution, Dili, East Timor

As an UN peacekeeper, I joined the East Timorese fight for life. By then, the earth had drunk the blood of one third of their population. But worse was still to come.

I would see it for myself.

I saw bodies carried to their deaths, machetes carve flesh from bone, and bullets spray into crowds of Timorese and at us peacekeepers. I learned the true meaning of fear, hopelessness, and courage. Shades of truth were twisted for evil gain. Every day I prepared to die. Decisions I made, which seemed so right, jeopardized the lives of others.

Police held automatic weapons to my head, militia wrote my name on death lists, and people drew their last breath, all of them brave, braver than me.

For this is the true story of my experience. In the midst of the East Timorese fight for independence, militia were determined to enact their scorched earth policy and raze Timor to the ground.

Timorese voted, Timor burned. It is their story, our story: a story that must be told.

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Tammy Pemper

Tammy Pemper

Tammy Pemper is an Australian writer who has worked with the United Nations, Australian Federal Police, and the US Peace Corps to name a few. She is married to Peter, the Australian peacekeeper who is the central figure in this book, and came under fire in Timor. In addition to her passion for writing, Tammy continues to support projects worldwide, […]

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6 reviews for Scorched Earth

  1. The media release promised an unimaginable story of horror, violence and trauma, but also of extraordinary human spirit. Pemper delivered this in her story of Peter Watt’s first fortnight’s experience in East Timor during the time of the referendum and the violent uprisings in response to the result, before the evacuation of the UN ahead of INTERFET. This was a gripping book, full of detail and descriptions that at times made the stomach lurch. It opened with an explanation of the unwritten rules of peacekeeping, the frst being neutrality, and how Watt couldn’t remain neutral in his drive to retain his humanity; a position the book didn’t shirk from holding. I thoroughly recommend it to all, but particularly to those of you teaching Australia’s Engagement with Asia in Year 12, or Movements for Peace and Security in Year 11.

  2. The book was so amazing to read! All I can say is just WOW! I was absolutely hooked from the start. The love the main character has for his Shayhara was so sweet and fairytale worthy. I can’t even tell you the last time I picked up a book, and I never thought I would again but the author has definitely changed that for me. And I am so very thankful for that. I really just want to know so much more. It’s like I’ve got the start of the movie paused and I need to see the rest of it, that’s how I feel. So excited. I can’t wait for the next book. I’ve read Scorched Earth through once and am starting on reading it again.

  3. Tammy and Peter have made a most significant contribution to public awareness of the nature of service of our Aussie Police officers serving in international hotspots. Having served on many Army and AFP deployments myself , this is a gripping account of the stressors involved . It also speaks to the positive humanitarian contribution we are making in the service of peace. I look forward now to the next book and hearing more of their compassion in action response.

  4. (verified owner)

    I just couldn’t put this book down and finished it over 5 nights of reading till I just HAD to get some sleep. It’s riveting but dramatic in its presentation and felt for the people so much that you thought you were there right alongside of them helping to fight their battles. But appreciate those that did as I know I would not ever be that brave. Thankyou

  5. Scorched Earth by Tammy Pemper is a unique narrative-style biography that tells Peter Watt’s story of his service with UNAMET in East Timor between 28/8/99 to 15/9/99. Pemper uses Watt’s voice throughout the story. The effect of which elevates the tension and danger of Watt’s experiences. Through Watt’s eyes you get to feel the fear, anger and frustration he and his colleagues experienced. The increased level of verbal and non-verbal intimidation by the integrationist militia was unrelenting during that polling day and subsequent days and post the result. But nothing could stop the Timorese from casting their vote.

    Scorched Earth is a very important re-examination of the birth of the fragile democracy that grew out of the referendum result. Pemper and Watt drag the reader into this conflict. Watt’s voice is strong and vulnerable. His fears and frustrations elicit a sense of hopelessness and admiration of, not only his effort and that of all those attached to the UN, but that of the Timorese who stood up to the militia and Indonesia to claim their island for themselves.

  6. Riveting read…..Viva Timor Leste. #easttimor #interfet #timor #scorchedearth Shannon French #instragram

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