Friday, May 28, 2010

Asian Art Titles

Selections 101, the latest issue of our Selections new-titles catalogue, has just been released. Here are a few Art titles from it:

  • Phoenix Rising: Narratives In Nonya Beadwork From The Straits Settlements by Cheah Hwei-Fe'n. Over 200 illustrations in full colour complement this fine and comprehensive multi-disciplinary study of the distinctive beadwork done - and still being done - by nonya women of the Straits Settlements. The development and pattern of Peranakan society, the social roles and education of girls and women and the significance of nonya needlework and beadwork are the themes of Part One. Part Two looks at the history, traditions, designs and tensions of the beadwork craft and its practice. Part Three explores the place of nonya beadwork in contemporary culture, including in the ongoing revival of interest in all things Peranakan. With glossary, chronology, bibliography and index.
  • Sex Appeal In The City: Hong Kong by Stuart Wolfendale. Small in size, big in aspiration, Hong Kong has further accentuated its superlatives by challenging all rivals to the title of Billboard Capital of the World. No other civic skyline is quite so dominated by giant advertising displays blazoned across tennis-court expanses of building facades or wrapped around modes of transport. These advertising billboards often feature alluring, uninhibited, and provocative displays of lingerie and the most intimate accessories of sports and high fashion. Sex Appeal in the City is a light-hearted critique that surveys the power of provocative imagery in Hong Kong. Lavish colour photographs of prominent advertising billboards are accompanied by short commentaries.
  • Shifting Sand: An Anthology Of Sand Sculptures by Tan Jooheng. Sand sculptor Tan JOOheng has carved a name for himself around the world with his technically demanding original creations and outstanding displays. Regarded as one of the world's top ten leading sand sculptors, his works have often been described as "powerful" with "dynamic movement and strong themes". Shifting Sand features a collection of selected works that JOOheng has created internationally over the past eleven years. The black-and-white photographs, accompanied by JOOheng's personal reflections on each featured sculpture, vividly illustrate the intricate details and beauty of each of his creations.
  • Body & Spirit: Tibetan Medical Paintings edited by Laila Williamson and Serinity Young. The first full set of Tibetan medical paintings, or tangkas, were painted between 1687 and 1703. In a beautiful and unique artistic style, the paintings illustrate Tibetan medical knowledge that drew on traditions from India, ancient Greece, Persia, pre-Buddhist Tibet, and China, while remaining firmly rooted in Buddhism. Copies of the iconic images have been created in meticulous detail through the centuries. Body and Spirit focuses on a set of contemporary paintings in the traditional technique by the Nepalese artist Romio Shrestha and his assistants in Kathmandu. The text and motifs on each painting is explained in detail.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Books on Japan and World War II

Here are five interesting books on Japan and World War II, addressing various perspectives:
  • Legacies Of World War II In South And East Asia edited by David Koh Wee Hock. These 13 specialist papers were given at the 2005 Iseas conference "Legacies of World War Two in South and Southeast Asia". They explore multidimensional memories of events which were very different to the many ethnic, political, social and economic groups in Asia, some of whom had been since 1931 experiencing the Great Asian War of which World War II was of course a major component. Overview papers by Professors Wang Gungwu and Tim Harper introduce separately referenced papers on World War II legacies in Indochina, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand. The final four contributions are on China and on India, with a Japanese contribution and a discussion of reconciliation between Japan and South Korea. Indexed.
  • Japan's Holy War: The Ideology of Radical Shinto Ultranationalism by Walter Skya. Japan's Holy War reveals how a radical religious ideology - a fervent nationalism within State Shinto - drove the Japanese to imperial expansion and war in Asia and the Pacific. In the early twentieth century, a fervent nationalism developed within State Shinto. Skya documents this transformation in the ideology of State Shinto as support for the theory of constitutional monarchy gave way first to the theory of absolute monarchy, and then to the ideology of emperor-centred totalitarianism. Skya suggests that the creeping democracy and secularisation of Japan's early-twentieth-century political order were the principal causes of the terrorism of the 1930s, which ultimately led to a holy war against Western civilisation. With notes, bibliography and index.
  • Japanese-Trained Armies In Southeast Asia by Joyce Lebra. This is the first study by a Western scholar of a significant facet of the history of World War II - Japanese-trained independence and volunteer armies as agents of revolution and moderation. At the time, the Japanese did not see that their military imprinting would affect a whole generation of political/military leadership of nations post-World War II Southeast Asia. Leaders like Suharto, Ne Win and Park are all products of Japanese military training.
  • Japanese Intelligence In World War II by Ken Kotani. This study of Japanese intelligence work in WWII is by a strategy analyst with study experience in the US, UK, and Japan. It casts light on an area of WWII history till now largely obscured in the West. Among the areas discussed are: the historical background of Japanese intelligence; intelligence-gathering and usage in the army and in the navy; evaluation patterns and blockages; Japanese assessments of enemy forces both before and during WWII; and the use of intelligence in Japan's war planning. With black-and-white photographs, bibliography and index.
  • World War II Japanese Tank Tactics by Gordon Rottman and Akira Takizawa. In this book, expert author and tactician Gordon L Rottman provides the first English-language study of Japanese Army and Navy tank units, their tactics and how they were deployed in action. The Japanese army made extensive use of its tanks in the campaigns in China in the 1930s, and it was in these early successes that the Japanese began to develop their own unique style of tank tactics. From the steam-rolling success of the Japanese as they invaded Manchuria until the eventual Japanese defeat, Rottman provides a battle history of the Japanese tank units as they faced the Chinese, the Russians, the British and the Americans.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Books: Goh Keng Swee

Here are several books on and by Goh Keng Swee (1918-2010), one of Singapore's founding fathers.
  • Goh Keng Swee And Southeast Asian Governance by Ian Patrick Austin. This book is aimed at readers who may have a limited, or indeed no knowledge of the policy work carried out by Goh Keng Swee on the development of Singapore and the decisive influence his thinking continues to have on contemporary Singapore governance. The book further explores how Goh's developmental thinking and practices may be utilised by policy-makers in developing economies within the Southeast Asian region and further abroad. Goh's work in fact makes clear that developmental success is transferable between nations given the presence of pragmatic policy-makers. Ultimately, the central aim of this book is to encourage further study and consideration of the words and work of one of Southeast Asia's premier thinkers on development.
  • Lee's Lieutenants: Singapore's Old Guard edited by Lam Peng Er and Kevin Y.L. Tan. Offers a new understanding of post-colonial Singapore's origins and developments. Takes a long overdue look at the capable team of loyal lieutenants who served behind the scenes, including: Toh Chin Chye; Lim Kim San; Goh Keng Swee; Kenny Byrne and Eddie Barker; S Rajaratnam and C V Devan Nair; Ahmad Ibrahim, Othman Wok, Yaacob Mohamed and Rahim Ishak; Ong Pang Boon, Lee Khoon Choy and Jek Yuen Tong and Lim Chin Siong.
  • The Economics of Modernization (Reprinted 2004) by Goh Keng Swee. This is a collection of speeches written by Dr Goh Keng Swee between 1959 and 1971. It is a climacteric in the history of not only Singapore, but also the developing countries of Asia. The speeches not only deal with topic of modernization, they also touch on sociological, political, defence and other topics. Reflecting the prevalent issues then, these essays are an invaluable record not only of Singapore's progress towards a total, viable statehood, but also problems faced by developing countries in 1960s.
  • The Practice Of Economic Growth by Goh Keng Swee. The importance of fast economic growth in developing countries has been an undeniable fact since the early 1970s. Today, its significance is even greater as these emerging centres are eagerly sought as bases for economic expansion by developed nations. Singapore, in its rise from a stuggling colony to its present status as an economic success, offers a glimpse of the factors that contibute to the growth of a thriving economy.

Books on Politics in Thailand

The political crisis in Thailand continues to dominate the headlines. Here are 5 books that examine Thailand’s complex political history and circumstances.
  • Red vs. Yellow - Volume 1: Thailand's Crisis of Identity by Nick Nostitz. This volume describes, both in photos and in text, the political turmoil and violent street protests that took place during the first elected administration in Thailand after the 2006/2007 coup period, its government led by the PPP (People Power Party) a place holder party of the TRT (Thai Rak Thai) which had been ousted by the military coup. The anti-government and nationalist-royalist PAD (People's Alliance for Democracy) entered Government House, the seat of Thailand's cabinet, and occupied it for months, before its protests culminated in the invasion of Bangkok's airports, the dissolution of the PPP and the overthrow of the government by forces seen as sympathetic to the PAD. In the course of the year the police, the PAD and their opponents - the Red shirts, an alliance of government supporters and pro-democracy groups - clashed on several occasions. Incidents involving at times shocking violence laid bare Thailand's long neglected social, political and regional divisions and left it a deeply unstable nation. Nick Nostitz covers this significant period of Thai history from the centre of events. His articles on which this book is based caused considerable controversy when first published.
  • Thaksin by Pasuk Phongpaichit and Chris Baker. In 2001, Thaksin Shinawatra was elected prime minister on a single-minded promise to accelerate Thailand to first-world status through unrestrained capitalist growth. His tenure from 2001 to 2009 gave new meaning to the role of prime minister and transformed Thai politics. It is an extraordinary story involving four landslide elections, a military coup, a demonstration lasting half a year, the popular mobilization of people in colour-coded street armies, the occupation of Bangkok's international airports, assassination plots, and the flight of Asian leaders from a regional meeting by helicopter. The first edition of this book was published in 2004, and the original chapters remain unchanged. They trace Thaksin's family background, his meteoric success as a telecommunications entrepreneur, his bid for the premiership, and the key polices and achievements of his years in power. In the expanded second edition, four new chapters and a conclusion trace in detail the protracted story of Thaksin's downfall. Thaksin exposed the deep divisions in Thai society and made them matter in politics. He was opposed by social activists critical of his neoliberal policies, by human rights defenders appalled at his callous authoritarianism, by royalists who imagined him as a threat to Thailand's revered monarch, by businessmen who resented his nepotism and cronyism, and by a broader middle class who saw him as corrupt, untrustworthy, and dangerous. But at the same time, he drew passionate support from farmers and provincial businessmen who welcomed his policies to spread wealth, expand social services, and empower the common man.
  • Jungle Book: Thailand's Politics, Moral Panic and Plunder, 1996-2008 by Chang Noi. "Chang Noi" has been since 1996 a widely read and often provocative writer for The Nation of Bangkok. These 64 articles from the newspapers discuss many aspects of Thailand's life and politics. They include headlined scandals, running sores and unsolved crimes as well as acute and often humorous analyses of major and minor matters relevant in Thailand's life and development.
  • A Coup for the Rich: Thailand's Political Crisis by Giles Ji Ungpakorn. This is a book that attempts to explain the most important issues in Thai politics. It asserts that the popularity of Thai Rak Thai can only be explained by the power of the oppressed and their potential to revolt in times of crisis; and that the coup of 2006 can only be understood as a "Coup for the Rich" against the interest of the poor. Both populism and the coup were only possible because of the weakness in politics of the Thai People Movement. Finally, the violence in the South can only be explained by looking at the repression of the Thai State against the Malay Muslim population and how that population is fighting back.
  • Divided Over Thaksin: Thailand's Coup and Problematic Transition edited by John Funston. These 13 papers were selected from those given by senior analysts from Thailand and the region at the 2006 and 2007 seminars of the National Thai Studies Centre at the Australian National University. The Coup of 2006 and other turbulent events were more or less in progress during the seminars so some of the papers have the flavour of immediacy. Among the subjects addressed are: the Constitutions of 1997 and 2007 and their impacts; the policies, fall and possible future impact of Thaksin Shinawatra, Prime Minister 2001-2006; four papers are on aspects of the ongoing insurgency in Southern Thailand; and the final three papers focus on the economy with discussion of the impact of political uncertainty on business. With much tabulated data, and index.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Book Launch at Select Books, Friday, May 21, 2010

There will be a book launch on Friday (May 21, 2010) at Select Books for Footfalls Echo in the Memory: A Life with the Colonial Education Service and the British Council in Asia by Verner Bickley, formerly of Raffles Institution, the (then) Singapore Teachers' Training College and the British Council.

Verner Bickley, after the University of Cardiff and service in the Royal Navy in India and Ceylon (Sri Lanka), joined the British Colonial Service and served as an Education Officer in Singapore before joining the British Council in Burma and Indonesia. He later returned to the Overseas Service as Director of the Hong Kong Government's Institute of Language. He is an Honorary Research Fellow at the University of Hong Kong and Chairman of the English-Speaking Union, Hong Kong.

Bickley's service was set against a backdrop of political turbulence after World War II, colonial independence movements and the emergence of Japan as an economic powerhouse.
This personal account of his career is enlivened by a succession of meetings with diverse personalities, including royalty, British and Thai, as well as writers like Anthony Burgess, Graham Greene and Willis Hall and actors such as Donald Sinden, Patrick Stewart and Max Adrian.

Verner Bickley shows how cultural values were uppermost and important in themselves though the medium of the near-universal English language, and vital for technical training.


Date: Friday, May 21, 2010

Time: 6pm
Place: Select Books
, Tanglin Shopping Centre

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Work in Progress: Book on Carnivorous Plants

We are now working work on our next publication under the Celestial imprint. It will be - surprise, surprise - a book on carnivorous plants!

On the one hand, this is certainly a subject matter that would not normally be associated with Select; on the other hand, we’ve always had a reputation for carrying a very good range of books on nature and fauna, so this is not that large a departure from our usual books.


The title of the book will be
Growing Carnivorous Plants in the Tropics. It will offer practical advice by using case studies for different growing areas typical in Singaporean conditions, such as outdoors, balconies etc. It will include ideas for the cultivation of challenging temperate carnivorous plants as well as highland ones in extreme lowland conditions with little temperature fluctuation.

Author Cindy Chiang started growing carnivorous plants about 15 years ago. She has written articles for a local gardening website and conducted several talks on the cultivation of these exotic plants at the local library and at gardening events. Her passion for carnivorous plants was also featured in “Life” section of
The Straits Times and in one of the home décor magazines, Home Concepts.

Cindy is particularly well known on online carnivorous plants-related forums. She is a long-term moderator on the forum of local gardening website
Green Cultures Singapore as well as the largest US-based carnivorous plant forum Terra Forums.

The book is scheduled to be launched at the
Singapore Garden Festival, which will be held at Suntec Singapore on 15-22 July 2010.

More on this book and the book launch in later posts.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Books on Nepal

Here is a selection of books on Nepal:
  • Kings of the Forest: The Cultural Resilence of Himalayan Hunter-Gatherers by Jana Fortier. In today's world hunter-gatherer societies struggle with seemingly insurmountable problems: deforestation and encroachment, language loss, political domination by surrounding communities. Will they manage to survive? This book is about one such society living in the monsoon rainforests of western Nepal: the Raute. Kings of the Forest explores how this elusive ethnic group, the last hunter-gatherers of the Himalayas, maintains its traditional way of life amidst increasing pressure to assimilate. Author Jana Fortier examines Raute social strategies of survival as they roam the lower Himalayas gathering wild yams and hunting monkeys. Hunting is part of a symbiotic relationship with local Hindu farmers, who find their livelihoods threatened by the monkeys' raids on their crops. Raute hunting helps the Hindus, who consider the monkeys sacred and are reluctant to kill the animals themselves. Fortier explores Raute beliefs about living in the forest and the central importance of foraging in their lives. She discusses Raute identity formation, nomadism, trade relations, and religious beliefs, all of which turn on the foragers' belief in the moral goodness of their unique way of life. The book concludes with a review of issues that have long been important to anthropologists - among them, biocultural diversity and the shift from an evolutionary focus on the ideal hunter-gatherer to an interest in hunter-gatherer diversity.
  • Buddhist Art: A Historical and Cultural Journey by Gilles Béguin and translated by Narisa Chakrabongse. Buddhism and its art represents the one truly unifying factor of the entire Asian continent and has become a fundamental part of our shared world heritage. However, to draw a unique portrait of this art in a single work is a formidable undertaking due to the great plurality in traditions spanning different countries and regions over various epochs. Furthermore, the variability in the state of conservation of Buddhist monuments and their decorations provides additional challenges. A passionate scholar of Buddhist art, Giles Béguin has chosen to organise his synthesis in the form of an historical atlas. Together with photography, plans and reconstructions of the monuments and their artwork, this publication also contains previously unpublished cartography. The author takes the reader on an historical and cultural journey across the vast continent of Asia stretching from India, Sri Lanka and Gandhara to countries such as Thailand, Cambodia and Burma in Southeast Asia up to the Himalayan kingdoms of Nepal and Tibet before arriving at the Far Eastern civilisations of China, Korea and Japan.
  • Kathmandu Valley Style by Lisa Choegyal, Craig Potton and Gautam Sjb Rana. Nepal is widely acclaimed for its unique art and architectural styles. The ancient palaces, temples, courtyards and streetscapes of Kathmandu Valley are protected as no less than seven World Heritage Sites. Recent efforts to preserve the architectural heritage of Kathmandu have carefully and authentically restored many of the Valley's important public monuments. Lesser known are the recent imaginative and adaptive use of Nepali architecture and decorative styles into new buildings and private homes. Kathmandu Valley Style captures the wealth of the past and illustrates how influences from the Malla Newar, Tibetan and Rana architecture have been incorporated into present-day buildings and lifestyles. Using traditional themes and building techniques in the restored historic and new structures has breathed fresh life into Kathmandu's rich living cultural heritage, and provided additional attractions for visitors. Featured in this volume are over 40 historic and new buildings, many of them never before photographed or published. Reinforcing national pride in Nepal's vernacular architecture, this unique collection demonstrates how traditional art and architecture can be successfully incorporated into homes for today's changing world.
  • Life Of My Sisters by Debby Ng and Edwin Koo. Only a mere 28% of girls in Nepal are literate, and less than three out of ten can read. Without essential skills, these girls risk falling victim to prostitution rings and child trafficking networks. Others are forced to live on the streets. Education is the best hope these girls have of a normal life - a life of independence and true freedom. For more than a decade, Little Sisters Fund has been giving Nepalese girls a glimmer of hope through scholarships for underprivileged girls in Nepal. Photographers Debby Ng and Edwin Koo entered the home of these little girls. With beautifully evocative photographs and sensitive essays, they tell the heart-warming and inspiring stories of these girls - Nepal's hope for a better future. Net publisher proceeds from the book will be contributed to Little Sisters Fund.
  • Nepal: Trekking+Climbing 25 Treks And 12 Climbing Peaks by Steve Razzetti. This book describes 25 treks and 12 climbing peaks in the Nepal Himalaya, with coverage of the entire country from Saipal in the west to Kangchendzonga in the east. Designed for first-time visitors as well as experienced trekkers and climbers, it is an essential sourcebook for anyone contemplating a venture in Nepal's wild Himalayan regions. With detailed maps and beautiful photographs. Indexed.