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  1. #1
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    Books about Asia

    There are a couple of book threads on TD already, but I couldnt find one that is Asia specific so thought I'd start one. Interested to hear your recommendations for books based in/about Asia - history, fiction, non-fiction, light reads, academic tomes-anything really, based anywhere in Asia, South East or otherwise.

    Here's mine to start:



    Pascal Khoo Thwe-From The Land Of Green Ghosts

    I stole the following synopsis from here Reading Guide on From the Land of Green Ghosts from HarperCollins Publishers as it describes it perfectly:

    For Pascal Khoo Thwe, his childhood as part of the Padaung tribe is a time defined by the closeness of family and the rhythms of life in the small village of Phekhon. His grandmothers spin mesmerizing stories about the myths of creation, which blend with the teachings of the Catholic Church. The daily practices of the Padaung -- rice-wine making and drinking, playing football, and tending to crops and animals -- are punctuated by BBC radio broadcasts that tell of the political turmoil rumbling throughout the country.

    As a young man, Pascal journeys to Mandalay to study English literature at the University -- where students are forbidden to express their opinions about the texts or they face severe punishment. Outside his village for the first time, Pascal is witness to the harsh reality of how decades of war, foreign occupation, and a totalitarian regime have devastated the country. In Mandalay, where he works as a waiter in a Chinese restaurant, a chance encounter leads to a meeting with Dr. John Casey, a professor at Cambridge University on a tour of Burma. An unlikely connection is forged between the two men, instigated by a shared love of the works of James Joyce.

    Forced to abandon his studies when the government orders the closing of the country's universities, Pascal heads home to the sanctuary of Phekhon. But the conflict soon reaches even the most remote parts of Burma, and although he shuns the violence of war Pascal discovers he has a gift as an orator and speaks out against the government's atrocities. Soon the Burmese Army is on the hunt for Pascal and other students, and he is forced to leave Phekhon and join the rebel forces. He spends the next several months in the jungle on the Thai-Burmese border, where illness is rampant and attacks by the Burmese Army are frequent.

    A second chance encounter occurs when a Western journalist visiting the rebel camp offers to hand-deliver a letter from Pascal to Dr. Casey, and a correspondence develops between the two men. When Dr. Casey arranges to have him smuggled out of Burma, Pascal is consumed by feelings of guilt at abandoning his home, his family, and his comrades. With the hope that he will be able to help his people by revealing their plight to the outside world, he journeys to England. Under the guidance of Dr. Casey, Pascal becomes the first person from the Padaung tribe to attend Cambridge University.

    With language that is by turns lyrical and poignant, laced with humor and told with an insight that is well beyond his years, Pascal Khoo Thwe has created in From the Land of Green Ghosts both a mesmerizing autobiography and a powerful tribute to the homeland he left behind.
    An excellent autobiography, highly recommended.
    Last edited by khmen; 15-11-2011 at 10:59 PM.

  2. #2
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    The next book I'd highly recommend is this:


    Haing S Ngor-Survival in the Killing Fields.

    This is, IMO, the best first hand survivors account of the Khmer Rouge regime written. It is the personal story of Haing S Ngor, who eventually moved to the US where he starred as Dith Pran in the film "The Killing Fields".

    It is a genuinely shocking and moving book, especially for those who havent read much about life under the KR before. It is one of the only books I've ever read that brought tears to my eyes, when it describes the gut wrenching events experienced by the author.

    Not a book for the faint hearted, but an excellent introduction to the KR period.

  3. #3
    Newbie Hoof Hearted's Avatar
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    oh man ! I thought this was a thread about "asia books" the bookstore ! I thought maybe you were going to point me at some discounts ! Both of these books look interesting though, I may have to pick them up next time i hit up asia books.

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    As you can probably tell, I quite enjoy reading autobiographical accounts of historical events. I just think that as long as you bear in mind they're written from a certain perspective, they help bring the facts and stats of history books to life. With that in mind, here's another one:



    Bao Ninh-The Sorrow Of War

    An account of the Vietnam War written from the perspective of a VietMinh soldier. Very interesting to read the thoughts of someone usually portrayed as cannon fodder in Vietnam war films, yet the book isn't really focused on the wider political issues and isn't particulary critical of the US.

    Here's a review ripped from Amazon that explains it more eloquently than I can (be arsed to):

    Of the 500 original members of his brigade who went off to war against America, Bao Ninh was one of only 10 who survived. That puts in perspective the, relatively speaking, minor losses on the American side (55,000 killed, as against an estimated 2-3 million Vietnamese who lost their lives). Despite the unbelievable sacrifices and losses on his side, this is not a book of rancour - indeed the Americans hardly figure in it at all. It is a book about the sorrow and loss of war, and the often futile attempt of survivors to put their lives back together again afterwards. For Bao, who was away for ten years of fighting (again, in contrast to most American soldiers, whose tours of duty generally lasted only a year or two), it is about the loss of his youth, and the loss of love. Most of all, it is about the attempt to somehow exorcise the demons and nightmares through the act of writing (which as Primo Levi proved, after a lifetime of post-Holocaust writing, is still not always possible). Achingly beautiful.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hoof Hearted View Post
    oh man ! I thought this was a thread about "asia books" the bookstore ! I thought maybe you were going to point me at some discounts ! Both of these books look interesting though, I may have to pick them up next time i hit up asia books.
    Haha, I probably should have came up with a better title really!

    Yeah, they're both definitely worth getting, I couldn't put either one down.

  6. #6
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    Hellll-oooooo? Nobody? Fok me, I've seen much worse thread ideas than this get at least a few replies!




  7. #7
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    Anything by John Burdett (Bangkok Haunts, Bangkok Eight etc). Always a good read and doesn't make you think much.



    Private Dancer - I should hate it, I want to hate it but it;s actually very engaging.



    Most of the 'I was stupid and got caught carrying drugs' are nice reads.. 2 of the best written ones are..

    Welcome to Hell -



    Marching Powder



    The Beach - A great book, although it's set in Thailand it could be anywhere I guess.



    The Judgement by Chart Korbjitti - A good book translated from Thai. Was made into a movie too but I've yet to find a torrent with any seeds.

    [IMG][/IMG]
    I'd like to see what morning looks like
    Don't wanna drink pint after pint
    I wanna wake up without feeling sick
    But I can't cuz I'm a drug-abusing alcoholic

  8. #8
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    oops just seen Marching Powder was in a Bolivian prison. oh well.

  9. #9
    splendid and tremendous
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    This is one I really fancy reading..


  10. #10
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    ^^same as young Armstrong up there apart from I've never read "the beach"


    Marching powder is a brilliant book!

    Have a look for "Thai Gold" by Jason Schoonover, not sure how many times i've read that but whenever i'm without something new to read i'll pick it up and enjoy it every time!


    stolen from Amazon,
    IN THE STEAMY, MYSTERIOUS FAR EAST A LEGENDARY TREASURE BECKONS….

    Everyone in the Golden Triangle has heard the rumor, but few believe it’s more than local myth—until high in the Himalayas a Buddhist monk is savagely murdered and his monastery ransacked. The stolen treasure is the most sacred icon of the eastern world: the jewel-encrusted head of Gautama Buddha. When a wealthy client calls on adventurer Lee Rivers to track down the macabre—and priceless—relic, he finds the assignment irresistible.

    River’s specialties are eastern antiquities, exotic women, and high-priced danger. But nothing he has survived up to now can prepare him for this unholy quest. And no woman he has ever enjoyed can compare to the mysterious and sensual Tysee, the daughter of a violent Thai warlord. Together, Rivers and Tysee find themselves pitted against a brutal tribe of drug traffickers, ruthless ex-Nazis, bloodthirsty Sikhs, cold-blooded KGB agents, and relentless CIA operative—all determined to recover the head at any cost!

    With vivid realism and imaginative brilliance, real-life adventurer/author Jason Schoonover has written a riveting tale of nonstop action, sizzling romance, and taut suspense quite unlike anything you’re ever read before.

    “A major writer of the Southeast Asia scene.”—BANGKOK POST



    “Jason Schoonover is among a small handful of authors who inspired me to become a writer.” Jack DuBrul, co-author with Clive Cussler of six novels and of his own Philip Mercer series.


    http://www.amazon.co.uk/Thai-Gold-eb...1548190&sr=8-3
    Well, luckily I didn't have any tortoises on me at the time...

  11. #11
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    ^^That's worth reading too STS!

  12. #12
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    Cheers for the recommendations chaps, and to the mods for putting a better title to the thread. At least I'm not talking to myself anymore!

    "Thai Gold" sounds interesting, sort of like a South East Asian Indiana Jones! Cheers Jizzy. And cheers for the heads up on the John Burdett books Armstrong, seen them in my local library so I'll check them out. Sorry, out of greens!

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by khmen
    sort of like a South East Asian Indiana Jones
    I was going to use that to describe it actually but instead stole Amamzons bit of guff!

  14. #14
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    Christopher G Moore is another writer I enjoy.

    I'll ad to this as and when I think of things...

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    Daughter of Issan.
    Lom.
    The damage done.
    Thai lites.
    Money No1.
    Foolin Paradise.

  16. #16
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    First they killed my father by Loung Ung. The story of a young Cambodian girl growing up during the Khmer Rouge.
    Her 2nd book lucky child is also very good.

  17. #17
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    Norman Lewis-A Dragon Apparent

    This book is one of my favourite travel books. It follows the author on his travels through the dying days of French Indochina. The author set out to document a way of life which he correctly envisaged was soon to be gone forever, and the result is a beautifully evocative capture of a period in time.

    There are many memorable moments but the Phnom Penh high society opium dens and escorted tours with the French Army through Vietnam due to bandits and rebels stick out.

    For those unaware of Norman Lewis, he wrote a lot of really good travel books, another worth mentioning is "Golden Earth" about his travels in India.

  18. #18
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    ^^Agree, that's another really good personal story from the KR period. There are a fair few and I think I've read most of them due to the cheap copies sold in Cambodia!

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    Both cracking reads - well worth looking for.



    From the author of Private Dancer , in my view his best novel yet and set in Bangkok as well .

  20. #20
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    Has anyone read any of the "Inspector Singh Investigates" by Shamini Flint?

    wondering if they're any good.

  21. #21
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    ^I havent personally, but I remember someone on another site mentioning them and saying they were really good.



    Think it was this one they were talking about, they've all got fairly good reviews on Amazon.

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    William Shawcross-Sideshow-Kissinger and Nixon and the Destruction of Cambodia.

    An excellent book detailing the illegal US bombing raids on Cambodia and Laos during the Vietnam conflict, and how US involvement in these countries led to murderous regimes such as the Khmer Rouge and Pathet Laos' rise to prominence.

    It is a scathing indictment of Nixon and Kissingers war crimes and should be essential reading for anyone interested in the modern history of the region, it is an eye opening read.

  23. #23
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    Got that 'solitary man' but not started it yet.

    Read ' The Queen of patpong' it was pretty good, better that 'Nail through the heart' .

  24. #24
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    A war correspondants personal memoir of Cambodia during the Vietnam war, including first-hand descriptions of the civil war in Cambodia, the fall of Phnom Penh and its subsequent recapture by the Vietnamese.

    It's a poetic book, vividly descriptive, almost a love poem to a time and place long since destroyed by war. It starts in the troubled times of the Lon Nol regime, where the author first becomes entranced by the exotic land and ends with the recapture of Phnom Penh, and descriptions of the starved, brutalised people.

    The "River of Time" of the title is a reference to the Mekong, of how life has flourished along it for thousands of years little changed, and used as a metaphor for the stormy times ahead and how life would shortly never be the same again.

    You can really feel the authors pain to see a place he loved so much brought to such degradation, it's well worth seeking out.

  25. #25
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    Michael Herr-Dispatches


    Again there are reviews which describe this better than I can so heres a couple lifted from Amazon:


    A whole book of cameo snapshots - surreal, stoned, " cassette rock n roll in one ear and door gun fire in the other" with these linked memories woven together Herr has taken us back to the time he watched the madness. If you ever want to try and understand the Vietnam war, or want to see it, the blood, the fear, the humour, cynicism, the irony, she sheer futility of it all, through the eyes of a professional observer then this is the only book for you. I first read it twenty years ago and every time I read it, it just gets better. It's multi layered, a book you can dip into at any page and marvel at Herr's ability to recount the insanity with evocative prose of immense power
    This is not a book about why the Vietnam War was fought. It may not even be a book about what it was like to actually fight in the war, but it is a book that clearly, and often with a twisted and strange language, shows what it was like to be surrounded by a war in which you were only an observer.
    It is worth reading the book just for the cast of characters it contains - Tim Page, Dana Stone and Sean Flynn could not have been invented and if you have watched either "Full Metal Jacket" or "Apocalypse Now" you will recognise the soldiers within the book.
    Don't read this book if you want an account of tactics and battles - a point some of the other reviewers seem to have missed. This book is about the Vietnam War looking from the inside outwards towards the world; it is about the war as an experience, not an historical event.
    The freedom that Herr and the other journalist had to go where they pleased, when they please gave rise to both language and images that did not sit well with government - and the way that wars have been covered since this time reflect the desire to control the flow of information from war zones.
    This is a stunning book, the likes of which may never be produced again.

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