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Wednesday 30 December 2020

New Arrivals at The Penang Bookshelf in December 2020


New Arrivals at The Penang Bookshelf


December 2020

(Last Updated 30-12-20)

  • Each book advertised below includes a brief description of its contents and condition as well as the price in Malaysian Ringgit. If you want a fuller description of a used book's condition, to look at the scanned contents page, if any, and/or to find out the price in USD, please click on the link in blue for the relevant book. 
  • If you click on a link after the current month and find nothing, the book's been sold.  
  • Of course, if you want to buy anything you see here, you can either do so from the site or contact me at 
  • This page will be updated constantly until the end of the month.
  • The prices shown here hold good for at least this month, but for out of print books, the prices may change in subsequent months.
  • All prices include free postage to anywhere in Malaysia and to Singapore.

Malaysia & Singapore - Arts & Crafts

Although the art of batik decoration of cloth originated in Indonesia, the craft has also flourished in Malaysia for centuries. In this book, the author traces its history in the country, describing various regional variations, and highlights its transformation into fashion wear in the 21st century. Near Fine Paperback. First Edition. 176 pages with an index and many colour illustrations.

Malaysia & Singapore - Biography & Memoirs

A humourous account of the life of an anthropologist based in Kelantan, Malaysia. When Raybeck is not entertaining the reader with his own personal misadventures, he also manages to convey an understanding and respect for his hosts. New Paperback. 243 pages with some black and white plates.

The memoirs of a well known educationalist during the British period in Malaya. He joined the Education Service at the Penang Free School shortly before World War II, survived internment under the Japanese and continued to make an impact on the country's education until independence in 1957. Near Fine. Paperback. First Edition 238 pages. Please see the scan of the contents page for further details.

Templer, often credited with turning the tide against against the Communist insurgents in the 'Emergency.' was a complex man. In this book the author, with the co-operation of, but not directed by, her widow seeks to piece together his life. Although he had many other accomplishments, both before and after his service in Malaya, he died largely unnoticed by politicians, but mourned by his fellow soldiers.  Please see scanned photos for a list of the chapters. Very Good Hardback in a Very Good Dust Jacket 508 pages.

This is a collection of notes made on a journey in 1952 to England and France by a leading light of Malay literature of the mid 20th century. Naturally much of the book is taken up with comparisons between the countries he visited and Malaya and Singapore of the time. Very Good Paperback. Second Edition. Originally published in 1961. 264 pages with several black and white photographs. 

The unusual story of a revolutionary Malay woman who joined the Communist Party of Malaya and was an active member of one of their guerilla regiments. After the defeat of the guerilla movement, she and her husband fled to China and were only allowed to return to Malaysia in 1991 where she lived out the last year of her life. This book was banned by the Malaysian authorities when originally published. New Paperback. First English Edition 122 pages with an index and black and white photographs


A passionately and beautifully written account of the destruction of the Borneo rainforest and its ramifications reaching out from Malaysia to the rest of the world where the exploiters and consumers benefit. Bevis spent a year in Sarawak with  the Penan people, loggers, activists and Malaysian politicians to produce this complex and compelling account, interwoven with excerpts from history, of the obliteration of a culture and an environment. . New Hardback in a New Dust Jacket First Edition 245 pages with some black and white photographs and a bibliography. 

Sellato first came across the nomadic forest dwelling Penans when working in Borneo as a geologist. Their way fo life and interactions with their settled neighbours so fascinated him that he trained as an athropologist and returned to spend a year and a half with his new friends. This work, which attempts to reconstruct the Penan past through oral history and relate it to their present lives, was the result. Near Fine Hardback. First Edition  280 pages including maps and charts, a bibliography and an index.

These journals were written by Brooke while serving an apprenticeship under his uncle, James Brooke, in the lead up to Charles succeeding James as the second Rajah of Sarawak. The vivid writings are highly evocative of what he came across among the peoples and countryside during his visits into the interior. The journals conclude with his thoughts as to what needed to be done by his government when he assumed office to cement Brooke family rule. Very Good Hardback. Reprint. Originally published in 1866. 746 pages with an additional 25 page introduction by RHW Reece, an expert on the Brookes, as well as a fold out map.

An account of the peoples and history of Sabah, formerly North Borneo, at the time of the Konfrontasi, or Confrontation, with Indonesia. The author travelled in the area for seven years to carry out research for this book. Good Hardback in a Good Dust Jacket. 208 pages with a glossary and bibliography.

Malaysia & Singapore - Cooking & Food

If you want to pig yourself on the food that Indian Muslims brought to Malaya from the establishment of Penang as a British port onwards, this is the book for you. It is a guide to be the best and not so good Nasi Kandar eateries in Penang. Grease abounding! New Hardback First Edition. 90 pages with lots of colour photographs.

Malaysia & Singapore - The 'Emergency'

In the 1950s Clague had weekly broadcasts of true crime stories taken from police files on Radio Singapore. This is the story of Wang Fook Kwang alias Tit Fang or 'The Iron Spearhead,' an important assassin in Singapore during the Malayan 'Emergency.' Good Paperback. First Edition. 153 pages with one or two black and white photographs. 

Drawing on his experience of covering the Malayan 'Emergency' as a correspondent, Miller, while being far from impartial, brings to life Britain's first experience of  a new kind of warfare where military intelligence and building up a decent rapport with civilians were prioritised over absolute reliance on war machinery. Good Paperback. Reprint. Originally published in 1972. 220 pages. Please see the scan of the contents page for further details.

Clutterbuck, who served in the British forces for part of the period covered by this book, does not just cover the more widely reported Communist rural guerilla campaign, but also analyses the workings of the student and trade union movements in the towns and cities. He explains the structures and tactics of both the rural and urban movements and the measures taken by the Governments of Malaya and Singapore to quash the rebellion. Near Fine Hardback in a Fine Dust Jacket. First Edition. 321 pages with various maps and diagrams, a bibliography and an index.

Very often the history of the evolution of Malaysia from a colonial entity to an independent state overlooks the significant contribution, for good or ill, of the Communist insurgency that was brought to an end by The Haadyai Peace Accord of 1989, more than two decades after the formation of Malaysia. In this book a noted social scientist, specialising in the sociological issues that formed a backdrop to the country's emergence to independence, seeks to redress that gap by stressing the insurgency's significance as part of the jigsaw of a history that stretches back to Britain's intervention in the country. Very Good Paperback. First Edition. 245 pages  with appendices, a bibliography and an index

Malaysia & Singapore - Environment, Nature & Wildlife

A handy guide with 20 colour plates and information on butterfly habits and distribution. Very Good Hardback. Reprint 64 pages. For further details, please see the scanned contents page. Very Good Hardback Reprint Originally published in 1960

Malaysia and Singapore are home to about 230 species of dragonfly, more than twice the number to be found in Europe. This useful pocket guide covers almost all of them with information on identifying characteristics, habitat and a colour illustration. New Paperback. First Edition. 127 pages

A booklet to be included in the emergency packs of armed personnel operating in jungle conditions. As one would expect, it contains a range of basic information to enable anyone unfortunate enough to find themselves in such surroundings without support. Very Good Paperback. 67 pages with several line drawings.

This book is a handy introduction to anyone wanting to quickly find their way around the abundant species of  wildlife on the Malaysian peninsula. The only complaint a modern reader might have is that the book's  photographs are in black and white. However this is more than compensated for by the book's comprehensive and informed, yet accessible, text and an abundance of detailed line drawings. The 237 pages have chapters on mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, fresh and sea water fish, insects, animals of the sea shore and other invertebrates as well as a glossary of Malay names. Near Fine Paperback. Third Edition. Fifth Impression. This edition originally published in 1970.

A booklet to be included in the emergency packs of Royal Air Force personnel who have had to abandon their aircraft over the sea. As one would expect, it contains a range of basic information to enable anyone to keep alive, if they were unfortunate enough to find themselves in such surroundings without support. Fair Paperback. 37 pages with several line drawings

This fascinating book looks at the hobby of keeping songbirds in cages by all three of the main races in Singapore from its founding until the end of the last century. Such birds are kept for different reasons than in the West and very often treated more lovingly in Asia. The book has both early and modern illustrations in black and white and in colour. 89 pages. The contents include The Growth of Bird-Keeping in Singapore - Why A Songbird? - The Most Popular Songbirds - Beginning with a Songbird - Songbird Care and Training - Bird-singing as a Sport -  Cages and Accessories & The Future of the Songbird Tradition. There is also a bibliography. Very Good Hardback First Edition

This classic work on butterflies in peninsular Malaysia is divided into three parts - Part I - Introduction, Part II - Discussion of the Species & Part III - A Synonymic List of the Butterflies of the Malay Peninsula. All of the species have detailed descriptions of habits and habitats and many are illustrated either in in the 55 plates of line drawings and black and white and colour photographs at the end of the book or in line drawings in the course of the book. 537 pages with a general index, a scientific index and an index of English names. Very Good Hardback in a Good Dust Jacket Revised Second Edition

Malaysia & Singapore - Fiction

This book is the first of a trilogy, centred on Penang. The story moves back and forth across different times and different countries. It's a story of great passion that seeks to capture how the changing Penang affects the book's characters'  lives. Good Hardback First Edition. 200 pages. 

An adventure story that follows a group of friends in search of treasure on a 'desolate atoll.' Their task is complicated by by the intervention of a local Triad society and a turtle and an old man, who share the secret of the treasure's whereabouts between them. Very Good Paperback. First Edition. 257 pages.

Barber started his career as a journalist, moved on to writing nonfiction, based on his experiences, and started writing novels in his seventies. This is his first novel set in Singapore, a dramatic love story spanning the city's turbulent history from the 1920s to the middle of the century. Very Good Paperback. Reprint. Originally published in 1981. 

Set in the bucolic past of rural Malaysia, this novel traces the events that followed the attack of an old tiger on a boy. The reactions of the villagers and the animal kingdom play on each other eventually reaching a climactic clash. 194 pages. New Paperback. First Edition. 

Malaysia & Singapore - History

This is an edited translation of an ambitious work by two Chinese academics taking in the sweep of history that encompasses the relations between mainland China and the Malaysian peninsula from  200 BC to Malayan independence. Roughly half of the book is devoted to the pre 16th century period. The publishers claim the book to be the first comprehensive history of the subject.  New Paperback 387 pages with a Glossary of Chinese Sources. 

For further details, please see the scanned contents page Good Paperback. First Edition. 223 pages. 

Purcell, one of the Malayan colonial civil service's experts on the Chinese diaspora reviews the birth of Malaysia and its new place in Southeast Asia. In doing so he makes a quick sweep through the country's history, independence and after as well including the roles of Sabah and Sarawak in the new federation. Very Good Hardback in a Very Good Dust Jacket. Revised Edition 230 pages including nearly 100 black and white plates, 3 maps, a bibliography and index.

Malaysia & Singapore - History (19th Century)

At a time when the European imperial powers were grabbing land all over the world, some of their more enterprising subjects set up fiefdoms of their own. One such was in the uninhabited Cocos-Keeling islands half way between Australia and Sri Lanka. This book resulted from Gibson-Hill's visit to the islands just before the Second World War which enabled him to piece together the antics of John Clunies-Ross, a Scottish merchant, and Alexander Hare, an English rival as they sought to establish themselves there in the early 19th century. Near Fine Paperback. Reprint. Originally published in 1953. 305 pages with a list of references. 

Swettenham was the first British Resident-General of the Federated Malay States at the end of the nineteenth century. Like many colonial administrators he found time to write about his impressions  of the country where he was based. This is a collection of musings, anecdotes and short essays about what he thought of Malaya and its peoples. New Paperback Reprint. Originally published in 1900 192 pages

Malaysia & Singapore - History (20th Century)

This is Hanna's follow up to his earlier book, The Formation of Malaysia. Having established himself in Southeast Asia in 1947, he draws on both his interviews with citizens and their politicians and library based research to analyse the development of the the individual states of the country and their political and economic development. All this is set against a background of the growing threat from nearby Indonesia. Good Hardback. 288 pages with an index 

Malaysia & Singapore - Indian Community & Culture

In this much commended but little known book the author shares the results of her study of religious practices of Hindus, mainly in Penang. She manages to tread a fine balance between showing respect and understanding of the depth of the religious observances she witnessed and at the same time being able to subject these practices to insightful and detached analysis. The contents of this 243 page book include 1 - The Power of Murugan's  Lance, 2 - Murugan as Metaphor, 3 - The Hindu Tamils of Penang, 4 - Thaipusam in Penang, 5 - Rituals and Politics, 6 - Arul - The Trance of Divine Grace 7 - Symbolic Acts: The Meanings of Ritual Vow Fulfillment, 8 - A Ceremonial Animal, 9 - Ritual Power and Moral Redemption and a very extensive Bibliography.  Good Paperback. First Edition

Malaysia & Singapore - Language & Linguistics

Reputed still to be the best book for teaching oneself Jawi, the former Arabic based script used for the Malay language. The book was written before the 1972 spelling reforms for Rumi, the now standard Romanised spelling for the language. 192 pages with a small vocabulary.  Good Hardback. First Edition


The standard work of its time in the Rumi script before the spelling changes. Very Good Hardback 375 pages

The waves of Chinese immigrants coming to Penang and elsewhere naturally brought their home languages with them. In this book the author guides the reader through the idiosyncratic version of Hokkien that established itself wherever the Chinese community predominated in the city. Although basically still the original Fujian dialect, as this humourous introduction demonstrates, the language has now taken on a life of its own with borrowings from English, Malay and any other flavour that takes the speaker's fancy. Near Fine Paperback. First Edition. 189 pages with several cartoons

Malaysia & Singapore - Malay Community & Culture

The common view of Malay culture is that it is conservative, placing emphasis on courtesy, values and tradition. In this work the author, a senior lecturer in Malay studies at the time of writing, seeks to understand how Malay society and its beliefs fare in taking advantage of  or resisting economic development.  He also looks at the values and beliefs of other societies with which the Malay community is most frequently in contact. Very Good Hardback in a Very Good Dust Jacket. First Edition 319 pages. For further details, please see the scanned contents page

One of the leading historians of the Malay peninsula and archipelago, not only undertakes a broad ranging review of the people of the area, their history and culture, but also examines the changing nature of Malay identity through the ages. Please see the scan of the contents page for further details. 293 pages. New Paperback

Malaysia & Singapore - Politics

This is a celebration of the People's Action Party, a year after it came to power in Singapore in 1959. The book includes various policy statements, accounts of past victories and a good selection of black and white photographs of party members and activities. The text is in Chinese, English, Malay and Tamil. Very Good Paperback. First Edition 119 pages and 47 pages of advertisements. 

Malaysia & Singapore - Religion

New. The author, a former Mufti of Perlis and current lecturer in Islamic studies at Universiti Sains Malaysia in Penang, has made quite a name for himself in the Malaysian media and elsewhere, in presenting an alternative Islam to that propounded by those whom he calls "conservative religious groups." For the first time this welcome 343 page book gathers together a representative sample of his voluminous writings translated into English. 

Malaysia & Singapore - World War II

An unusual account of life as a prisoner of war under the Japanese in that it demonstrates the humour amidst the misery. The author was a member of the Australian Army Concert Party in Changi jail and was well-known in Australia as a comedian after the war. Very Good Paperback. First Edition. 231 pages with several cartoons.

This book is mainly an account of the conviction for war crimes of the Japanese Generals Yamashita and Homma in the Philippines at the end of the Second World War. There is some information on Yamashita's successes in Malaya as well. The author was a member of the US Military Police responsible for holding the generals pending trial. New Paperback Reprint. Originally published in 1953. 112 pages with some black and white plates 

A 'documentary novel' about a group of Australian soldiers held as prisoners of war by the Japanese. Fair Paperback. Reprint. Originally published in 1963. 190 pages.


The Gurkhas are probably the best known mercenary force in the world. They were originally recruited by the British East India Company and now are part of the security forces of Brunei, India, Singapore and the United Kingdom as well as in their native Nepal. This book is a unique collection of accounts of the experiences of these men fighting wars for others many miles from home. Very Good Paperback. 320 pages with an index, maps and about 30 black and white plates.

Riddell argues in his introduction that although much has been written about the arrival of Islam in Indonesia and Malaysia and its development through to the revivalist period of the 1970s and 80s, much of such scholarship in English does not pay very much attention to the religious aspects of Islam .He therefore traces the theological ebbs and flows throughout its history in the region to redress this gap in Islamic scholarship. 349 pages. The contents include the following chapters Islamic Scholarship and Textual Materials, Doctrines and Debates: The Place of Revelation, Exegesis of the Qur'an, Law and Stories, Mystical Belief and Practice, 20th Century Islamic Reformism and Revolution, The 16th and 17th Centuries: Sufis in Conflict, Early Malay Qur'anic Exegetical Activity, The 18th and 19th Centuries: From Sufism to Reform, Malay Islamic Thought (1900-1998), Exegisis in Modern Southeast Asia, Perspectives on Popular Preaching (1983-98).There is also a bibliography and an index. New Hardback in a New Dust Jacket Reprint 

The Graves of Tarim: Genealogy and Mobility across the Indian Ocean - Engseng Ho  RM100

Before and while European powers were intruding upon Asia to colonise large parts of the continent, other outsiders, mainly Hadrami Yemeni descendants of the prophet Muhammad, were less obtrusively making new homes from the Indian sub continent to the Malay Archipelago. In this ground breaking work Ho with the help of biographies, family histories, pilgrimage manuals and other documents traces how this community not only absorbed themselves into their new host communities, but also maintained contact with their original homeland to spark cultural transformations that remained while European influence waned. New Paperback. First Edition. 379 pages with 24 black and white plates, 4 maps, a bibliography and an index


This book mainly concentrates on the interrelationship between the fall of the Sumatran Malay empire of Srivijaya and the founding of the sultanate of Melaka. Basing his research mainly on Chinese sources and the beginning chapters of the Malay Annals, the author seeks to piece together the turbulent history that led up to the sultanate's foundation, with Chinese maritime activity in the area as a backdrop. Very Good Paperback. Reprint. Originally published in 1970. 274 pages. For further details please see the scanned contents page. 

Sri Lanka

Not many people in either the Malay archipelago or in Sri Lanka know much about the Malay community in Sri Lanka except that they produce food from roadside stalls which is popular with all communities there. Hussainmiya in this book uncovers more of this small community's background, it's significant role in the British colonial machine and the communitiy's literary traditions. For example the Malay community in Sri Lanka can lay claim to publishing the first Malay language newspaper in the world. Good Paperback. Second Edition 191 pages with chapters on - Early Malay Contacts with Sri Lanka, Origins of the Malay Community 1640-1796, Governor North and the Malays, 1798-1805, 
Formation of the Ceylon Rifle Regiment, 1805-1827, The Regiment until its Disbandment, 1827-1873, Life in the Regiment: Economic and Social Aspects & Literary Achievements of the Regiment. There are also appendices, a bibliography and an index as well as some balck and white plates and one colour plate.


A booklet to be include din the emergency packs of aircraft operating over the Arctic. As one would expect, it contains a range of basic information to enable anyone unfortunate enough to find themselves in such surroundings without support. Very Good Paperback. 469 pages with several line drawings

A popular guide for aquarium owners with information on a wide range of aquarium fish, the transport of fishes, show rules and aquarium construction. Good Hardback. 521 pages with many black and white photographs and a a few in colour and an index.