History matters. At the beginning of a new century and amidst the turmoil of a new democracy, a historical perspective on modern Indonesia is needed more than ever. This innovative economic history connects back to the colonial era and helps to explain why the transition from colonialism to Independence and from the New Order to democracy has been so difficult and sometimes traumatic. The Emergence of a National Economy identitifies three grand themes in this transformation: globalisation, state formation and economic integration. Globalisation affected the Indonesian archipelago even before the arrival of the Dutch – the New Order experience was only the most recent wave. Modern state formation began in Java under Governor-General Daendels (1808-11) and culminated in the centralised, military-bureaucratic state of Soeharto’s New Order (1966-98). A national economy emerged gradually from the 1930s as the Outer Islands were reoriented towards an industrialising Java. These three themes link chronological chapters from the pre 1800 period through the modern colonial era to the breakdown of the colonial system after 1930, the birth of modern Indonesia, the remarkable economic transformation under the New Order, and the ‘meltdown’ during the Asian crisis of 1997/98. This overarching story gives a unity and rythm to Indonesia’s modern history, while helping to explain why the future is likely to be different. The four authors – senior scholars from Australia (Howard Dick), Germany (Vincent Houben), the Netherlands (Thomas Lindblad) and Indonesia (Thee Kian Wie) – draw on a very wide range of sources to combine the insights of history, economic history and economics.