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Monday 30 November 2020

New Arrivals at The Penang Bookshelf in November 2020


New Arrivals at The Penang Bookshelf


November 2020

(Last Updated 30-11-20)

  • 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 - Anthropology & Sociology

This interesting study was carried out by the author in the area of Mercham in Terengganu to establish how a traditional Malay society coped with childbirth and much that went before and after. She chose this state because it has been more cut off from outside influences than many other states particularly because she was interested to  discover also how this society was benefiting from Western medicine, if at all. Near Fine Paperback Reprint  267 pages whose contents include 1 - An Introduction to the Problem and the People, 2 - Food: Belief and Behaviour, 3 - The Malay Humoral System and the Concept of BISA, 4 - Conception and Pregnancy, 5 - Government Midwife and Traditional Midwife, 6 - Giving Birth in a Malay Village, 7 - The Postpartum Period & 8 - Conceptions and Preconceptions. There are also appendices on Edible Wild Plants, Incantations in Malay, Fish and Dietary Analyses, Notes, a Bibliography and an Index

Malaysia & Singapore - Architecture

 Fortunately for the lay reader, the author was not an architect or a great expert on Chinese culture when he set  out to write this book. Rather he was puzzled about how Chinese buildings in Malaysia looked different from the ones he had seen in China, so et set out to unravel the puzzle. The result this this easily readable and well-informed account of how the Chinese adapted their culture to their new surroundings. Very Good Paperback. First Edition 232 pages with many line drawings a glossary, bibliography and index. Chapters include - 1 - Origins and Culture of the Chinese in Malaya, 2 - Architectural Influences on the Malayan Chinese, 3 - Men and Materials: A Chronology of Chinese Building in Malaya, 4 - Religious and Commemorative Structures, 5 - Domiciles. 

Malaysia & Singapore - Biography & Memoirs

In this book, originally published in 1959, a year before his death, Dr Wu takes the reader through his extraordinary life from being born in Penang to becoming the first person of Chinese descent to graduate in medicine from Cambridge University and then to changing the face of medicine in China at the start of the 20th century. Arguably he could also claim credit for being the first Chinese doctor to demonstrate the effectiveness of modern medicine in the country as his research helped halt the Manchurian Plague. He was the first president of the Chinese Medical Association and established twenty medical institutions in China. 672 pages with appendices, Dr Wu's obituary in the Times newspaper and indices of Chinese and Non-Chinese people mentioned in the text. New Hardback. Reprint 


This classic account of the writer's visit to Borneo just around the time of independence includes history, ethnography and anecdote all written in an entertaining style. The book includes 44 black and white illustrations of the country and the people whom the author met. The 376 pages are divided into six parts, i.e. 1 - The Country, 2 - The Land Dayaks, 3 - The Ibans, 4 - The Kayans and Kenyahs, 5 - The Melanaus, Malays and Chinese and 6 - Envoi.  Very Good Hardback in a Very Good Dust Jacket. Third Impression. Originally published in 1956.    


This is quite an unusual history of the island of Borneo as Wilson blends in his experience as a geologist with history, anthropology and the results of the experiences of his and others' exploration of the island. The broad sweep of the book covers the island's transformation from the earliest times up to North Borneo and Sarawak joining the federation of Malaysia. As New Hardback in an As New Dust Jacket. First Edition. 278 pages with 6 maps, 13 black and white plates, a bibliography and an index. 

Media and Nation Building How the Iban Became Malaysian - John Postill  RM80

In this unusual, but instructive, study, Postill, an anthropologist looks at the effect of the media in bringing the Iban indigenous peoples of Malaysian Borneo into the embrace of their new home, Malaysia, a state that was constructed in the mid 20th century. What is particularly striking is that, although media has enabled the Iban to identify as Malaysian, it has not completely eradicated their indigenous identity. Near Fine Hardback. First Edition. 231 pages with some black and white plates and an index. 

The Borneo Story - Henry Longhurst  RM230

This is a history of the first 100 years of the Borneo Company, not to be confused with the North Borneo Chartered Company. The Borneo Company, with the backing, rather than the participation, of the Brooke family, was established in London in 1856, mainly to exploit mining possibilities in Sarawak. It later expanded to Thailand and Indonesia before merging with what is now Inchcape Plc. Very Good Hardback First Edition 120 pages with some black and white photographs.

Until the publication of this book a detailed and up to date account of the geography of Sarawak had been scattered and sketchy. In this book, the author has gathered together a wide range of accounts of the climate, geomorphology, , geology and geological resources, natural drainage and groundwater, soils, coastal areas, natural and environmental hazards, natural geochemistry and  interaction of the planets as it affects the state. Near Fine Paperback. First Edition. 464 pages with a wealth of illustrations in black and white and in colour, maps, plans and an index.

Malaysia & Singapore - Constitution, Laws & Legal System

A comprehensive overview of the Malaysian law by a prominent law professor and a fellow academic. The work takes in the relationship between statutory, common, Islamic and customary law as well as the provisions of the federal and state constitutions and the structure of the country's court system. Very Good Paperback 377 pages with a bibliography, tables of relevant cases and statutes and an index. 

Malaysia & Singapore - Cooking & Food

As the title suggests, the author, a senior academic in agronomy and horticulture, gives the reader a complete tour through everything one needs to know about Malaysian vegetables. Each species is illustrated in colour with their Malay, Chinese  and scientific names and there are guides to both the growing,  storage and cooking of the vegetables. New Hardback in a New Dust Jacket. First Edition.  222 pages. For further details, please see the scanned contents page. 

Malaysia & Singapore - The 'Emergency'

To commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the declaration of the 'Emergency' in Malaya, the author, a retired Superintendent of Police, who was on active service during the conflict, compiled this book. It not only contains reminiscences of others who served during the insurgency but also details of the 119 buried at the Anglican Christian cemetery at Batu Gajah, 'God's Little Acre.' The book also contains much other information about the conflict in the state of Perak. Very Good Paperback. Reprint. Originally published in 1998. 218 pages with several black and white plates and a few maps.

Miller, who was a journalist in Malaya at the time, was one of the more prolific chroniclers of the Malayan 'Emergency.' This book was published when the 'menace' was still alive and troublesome and traces the fortunes of the Malayan Communist Party from its founding through to Templer's successful efforts to bring the insurgents to heel. Good Hardback. First Edition 248 pages with some black and white photographs. For further details, please see the scanned contents page

An account of Christian missionary work in the Chinese New Villages where 'uprooted, suspicious and disheartened yet most loveable Chinese squatters' were moved by the British to separate them from the Communist insurgents during the Malayan 'Emergency.'  This is an unusual contemporaneous first hand account of life in these villages at the height of the conflict. Good Hardback. First Edition. 84 pages with several black and white plates.

Malaysia & Singapore - Environment, Nature & Wildlife

222 of the  more common plants are described with a line drawing for each. During the Japanese occupation the Singapore Botanical Gardens continued in operation and published books. The drawings are taken from some of these publications. There is both an index of English and of Malay names for all the plants described. 228 pages. Fair Paperback. Second Edition. Originally published in 1958

A comprehensive photographic and botanical survey of the majority of ferns to be found in peninsular Malaysia with a few in Sabah and Sarawak. Of the 392 fern species and varieties recorded at the time of publication, approximately 80% of them are depicted in nearly 1,500 photographs. Scientific names, habitat and description are also given for each species mentioned. Photographs by CJ Piggott. This work is the result of 20 years' research in the country. Very Good Hardback in a New Dust Jacket. Second Printing. Originally published in 1988 458 pages with a glossary, bibliography and an index to scientific names.

The author, a natural history photographer and researcher, introduces the reader to Malaysia's principal National Park, nearly 4,500 square kilometres of lowland and mountains, including the peninsula's highest mountain. Her many colour photographs are accompanied by her accounts of her many visits to the park. New Hardback in a New Dust Jacket. First Edition. 183 pages. For further details, please see the scanned contents page

This book claims to be one of the first in depth studies of poisonous plants in Malaysia. While the author points out that although many plants are poisonous to touch, they generally should not be eradicated as they have other important uses, such as providing shade and other products. There is also information on how to deal with cases of poisoning. .New Hardback in a New Dust Jacket Reprint. Originally published in  1990. 68 pages. For further details, please see the scanned contents page.

Malaysia & Singapore - Fiction

This story is set in 1950s when street boys bet on their fighting spiders for money and power. A wannabe leading 'spider boy', Kwang,  is obsessed with  training winning spiders. When he discovers that his childhood sweetheart is attracted to his main rival the scene is set for brutal gang warfare . Good Hardback. Reprint. Originally published in 1995.  220 pages. 

A tale of love, lust, treachery, thrills and adventure set during the Emergency period. The book was favourably reviewed when it was first published with one reviewer likening Yorke's writing to that of EM Forster and George Orwell. The book was originally issued at issued with the titles 'The Agency House' and 'The Girl in the Cheongsam. Good Paperback Reprint. Originally published in 1962. 160 pages.

A novel based on a film set in a Japanese prisoner of war camp for civilians and combatants. The war is over, but only two of the prisoners know this to be the case as they wait for the reaction of their captors. Fair Paperback Reprint. 156 pages

Malaysia & Singapore - Folklore

This is a reprinting of two books - Fables & Folk Tales from an Eastern Forest by Walter Skeat and Iban Folklore and Legends by Edwin Gomez. In each case anthropologists of the British colonial period brought to a wider reading public home spun stories that had enthralled many on both the Malay Peninsula and in Borneo. New Paperback Reprint 207 pages 

Malaysia & Singapore - History

In his preface the author wisely points out that the official histories of the country, whether written before or after independence, are the equivalents of histories of other countries, i.e. they're written by the colonialists, elites or victors. He interestingly highlights the deficiencies of these histories and proceeds to give his very readable 'people's history.' The book's main achievement is to highlight the contributions to the nationalist movement of Malay groups, whose efforts are generally unknown or underreported. New Paperback. First English Language Edition. 194 pages with an index.

This is a brief 162  page introduction to Malaya's history by one of the foremost British scholars on Malaya in the first part of the 20th century, Chapters include 1 - Malaya, the Land, 2 - The Peoples, 3 - The Hindu Millennium, 4 - Malacca's Century of Malay Rule, 5 - A Famosa, 6 - The Dutch at Malacca, 7 - The Straits Settlements, 8 - Britain and the Malay States, 9 - British Administration, 10 - The Reign of Law, 11 - Trade, monopolized and free, and Finance, 12 - Industries, past and present, 13 - Labour; Health; Education, 14 - Japan's Hour of Triumph, 15 - The Malayan Union and Singapore, 16 -  An Independent Malaya and Self Governing Singapore       Very Good Paperback. Seventh Edition     

In this sweeping overview, a former British diplomat, now visiting professor, looks at the development of European colonial power in Southeast Asia, with a particular reference to Indonesia and Malaysia. He then follows through to the deposing of Sukarno and the secession of Singapore from the Malaysian federation as well as chronicling Britain's declining role in the area and the emergence of a stronger United States interest. Very Good Hardback in a Good Dust Jacket  330 pages with maps, a chronology, a bibliography and an index. 

This is probably the best known piece of historical fiction in Malay literature as it purports to relate how the Melaka sultanate was founded by descendants of Alexander the great and ended with the arrival of the Portuguese. This edition in the Malay language has been edited by the noted scholar, William Shellabear. The book is Very Good Paperback. Reprint. Originally published in 1896. 262 pages including 20 pages of notes. 

A long time resident of Singapore and, for a while, Lee Kuan Yew's press adviser, on his overseas trips, casts a well qualified, but critical, eye over Singapore's recent past and even ventures to predict what life will be like after Lee Kuan Yew. Very Good Hardback in a Very Good Dust Jacket. 218 pages. For further details, please see the scanned contents page.

Malaysia & Singapore - History (20th Century)

In probably the first comprehensive review of intelligence operations in the former Straits Settlements, the author has produced a very readable history of this exciting period. The Special Branch was  formed when it was realised that the effects of World War I were making themselves felt in the Far East. The period covered by the book also witnesses the 'threat' of growing nationalism in colonial territories as well as the rise of Communism. Very Good Paperback First Edition 269 pages. The book has occasional black and white photographs, a bibliography and index

Malaysia & Singapore - Language & Linguistics

This is a comprehensive review of literature available in the mid-20th century about the wide variety of languages spoken on the island of Borneo. Over 20 languages or groups of languages are included. About half of the 82 page journal comprises of a discussion of the literature, while the remainder sets out an extensive bibliography. There is also a fold out map showing the places where the various languages are spoken. Very Good Paperback. First Edition

Good Paperback First Edition. 210 pages with a black and white plate Please see the scan of the contents page for further details

Fair Paperback First Edition. 140 pages with some black and white plates and line drawings Please see the scan of the contents page for further details. 

Brown sets out in this book to introduce the reader to Bahasa Melayu jati or 'true Malay' as it was spoken away from large conurbations with their foreign influences. Most of the book is devoted to Malay as it was spoken in the mid 20th century in Kelantan, Perak and Terengganu with some comments on 'country Malay' generally. Very Good Hardback. First Edition. 259 pages with appendices on Arabic words and the times of Day.

Malaysia & Singapore - Literature

In this work Braginsky takes a novel approach, i.e. determining coherent themes in Malay literature from the 16th to 19th centuries. The overarching theme, that he proposes, is the Islamisation of the Malay world. That is backed up by literature consistently promoting the idea of beauty (indah) as been of divine origin and essential to human harmony. Very Good Paperback. First Edition. 131 pages. For further details, please see the scanned contents page.

Malaysia & Singapore - Magic & Popular Religion

This work is not based on the author's own field work, but is rather a review of the literature on Malay magic at the time of publication in order to determine the common patterns and basic philosophy of magic practice on the peninsula. He draws mainly on Skeat's Malay Magic and other earlier and later reports of procedures and beliefs in this area. 188 pages with a bibliography and index. For further details, please see the scanned contents page Very Good Paperback. Reprint Originally published in 1971

Malaysia & Singapore - Malay Community & Culture

The author sets out to question whether the mythical heroes of Malay literature were always driven by the honourable motives attributed to them. He wonders about inherent contradictions between certain fundamental values and whether their often feudal nature helps build appropriate role models for the present day. By doing so he hopes to provoke Malays into 'taking a closer look at themselves and their social, political, economic and cultural values.' New Paperback. Reprint. Originally published in 1984. 139 pages For further details, please see the scanned contents page.

Malaysia & Singapore - Miscellaneous

Fair Paperback First Edition. 151 pages with a black and white plate Please see the scan of the contents page for further details.

Fair Paperback First Edition. 168 pages. Please see the scan of the contents page for further details. Weight: 0.6kg. Post free within Malaysia.

Malaysia - Orang Asli/Indigenous Peoples

These occasional papers were published for the benefit of newly arrived British officials to familiarise them with the country. Relying on information from local officials, Wilkinson briefly describes the customs of the Semai, Northern Sakai, Central Sakai, Besisi and Jakun and gives brief vocabularies for the languages spoken by them. Fair Paperback. First Edition 65 pages. 


A well known naturalist and a botanist have joined together to produce a detailed pocket guide to the 50 species of orchid to be found on Penang Hill. The species described are a mixture or orchids that are common, difficult to find and ones that are unique to this habitat. Each species is illustrated with at least one photograph and its habitat, ecology and description are included as well. New Paperback. First Edition 151 pages. For further details please see the scanned contents page 

This was one of a regular series of guides issued by the Municipality for the benefit of visitors. It contains travel, postal and accommodation information as well as a guide to sites to see and what to buy. It  also has several black and white photographs, advertisements and a fold out map of George Town attached to the inside rear cover. Very Good Paperback. First Edition 76 pages

Penang Hill has the distinction of probably being the first hill station established by the British in Asia, slightly preceding the better known Indian hill stations. Most visitors to the island ascend to the top, about 1,000 metres above sea level, stay about an hour and then return to the humidity below. This book is about the people who stayed, and still live, in the 52 bungalows that dot the upper reaches of the hill. Gibby introduces the readers to the history, personalities and architecture of the refuge from the maelstrom of city life below. New Soft back. First Edition. 222 pages with over 400 photographs, many of which have not been published before . For further details, please see the scanned contents page


In 1966 in Sarawak and in 1977 in Kelantan, state governments were replaced without elections. It happened again in Perak in 2009. In this book a collection of lawyers and journalists try to piece together what happened and record their findings in the hope of educating citizens, and maybe politicians as well, in trying to avoid such crises in future. New Paperback 170 pages

Malaysia & Singapore - Poetry

One of Singapore's best known Malay novelists introduces his anthology of over forty Malay poets reflecting the disparate strands of the life of this minority community. He concludes the book with an essay setting out his assessment as to the extent to which his chosen poets reflect his perception of the realities of Singapore life for Malays today. The poems have all been translated into English. Near Fine Paperback. First Edition  xiii and 379 with a list of the poetry collections from which the poems in this book were selected.

Malaysia & Singapore - Politics

While Malay politics in Malaysia today shows few traces of radicalism, this book this book harks back to a time when political firebrands such as Ishak Haji Muhammad, Ahmad Boestamam and Burhanuddin El-Helmy strode the political landscape. Abdullah's work is unusual in that he not only was able to base his findings on interviews with many of the principal characters of various groups, but also in the way that he interweaves the importance of Islam as a spur for radicalism. Very Good Paperback. First Edition. 185 pages with a bibliography and an index.

Malaysia & Singapore - Postal History

A collection of Singapore postcards from the early 20th century with explanatory notes in Chinese and English. Very Good. Paperback. First Edition. 136 pages. For further details, please see the scanned contents page.

Malaysia & Singapore _ Race Relations

Comber, a former member of the British Malayan police turned academic, picks his way sensitively through the events that transformed Malaysian society and politics. The causes and what actually happened are still a matter of controversy today. The author does his best to make sense of it all. Originally published in 1983. Very Good Paperback. Reprint. 134 pages. Please see the scan of the contents page for further details.

Malaysia & Singapore - Religion

A collection of essays that examines the nation's constitution 50 years after independence and the role of Islam in that constitution. Please see the scan of the contents page for further details. New Paperback
99 pages.

Malaysia & Singapore - World War II

A basic handbook prepared just before the end of World War II, possibly in anticipation of a British return. The information is mainly statistical extracted from the Malayan Year Book of 1939. Good Board Book. First Edition. 136 pages with various tables, including a fold out one and a fold out map of Southeast Asia. For further details, please see the scanned contents page.

The exciting account of a British civil servant who escaped Japanese detention in Singapore and travelled North through Malaya only to be recaptured again. A touching and humourous account which ends as the author grapples with a grudging acceptance of Japanese he met in the course of his civilian life after the war. Very Good Paperback. First Edition. Signed by the Author 155 pages.

An account of the experiences of the the 8th Division of the Australian Imperial Force (AIF) as part of the Malaya command during the Japanese invasion. Unlike many other accounts, this book is based on a considerable amount of archival material and personal diaries and reminiscences of the troops who fought there. Very Good Paperback. First Edition. 252 pages with some black and white plates, maps, a bibliography and an index. 


An account of the experiences of a British prisoner of war under the Japanese on the Thai-Burma Railway. Good Hardback in a Good Dust Jacket. First Edition. 181 pages. 

A collection of first hand accounts of both civilians and members of the armed forces describing life under the Japanese during World War II in Malaya. Near Fine Hardback. First English Language Edition. 344 pages with a map and a bibliography. 

A collection of short memoirs of various prisoners of war originally published in the FEPOW Forum of the London Prisoners of War Association. Included are the official account of Lt. General Louis Heath of the Malaya Campaign, an account by a Dutch women for her children and grandchildren and other accounts.  52 pages with maps, a few black and white photos and drawings. 52 pages. Very Good Paperback First Edition 

As part of their occupation of Singapore, the Japanese created a research bureau, the Chōsabu, to study  the economy so that  military and civilian administrators could draw on the findings when formulating social and economic policies. The reports were notoriously difficult to read, and so this exceptional translation by Gregg Huff and Shinobu Majima is a true linguistic accomplishment. These are especially important as the Japanese destroyed most records of their wartime administration, leaving the Chōsabu reports as one of the few firsthand sources to have survived.  New Hardback in a New Dust Jacket. First Edition 579 pages For further details, please see the scanned contents page


In this prescient polemic, written as the Second World War was ending, Ward takes the case of Hong Kong to look at how the Japanese invaders sought to present themselves as liberators of Asians from white imperialism. After examining Japan's modus operandi in the British colony, he advocates measures that colonial powers will have to take if they were going to regain their former dominance. Either such advice fell on deaf ears or was ineffective, since within a decade from the end of the war most Western colonies in Asia were either in the hands of newly independent governments or on their way to do so. Very Good Hardback in a Good Dust Jacket. First Edition. 205 pages with an index. 

About half of the world's approximately two thousand begonia species are native to Asia. In this book the authors illustrate the variety of such species from examples in the Academia Sinica, Taipei, The Cecilia Koo Botanic Conservation Center and The Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh. Each species is illustrated by at least one colour photograph and information on the species' identification, distribution and etymology. New Paperback. First Edition. 353 pages with an index.

As with many imperial enterprises, the British relied on those they had already subjugated to help them expand further afield to subjugate a few more. Here Harfield details how the British empire in Asia expanded eastwards from its base in India so as to become a major power in the Malay Archipelago. Both British and Indian troops fought side by side so as to threaten the established Dutch, Spanish and Portuguese spheres of influence. Near Fine Hardback in a Near Fine Dust Jacket. First Edition. 411 pages with some maps and black and white plates. For further details please see the scanned contents page

A booklet to be include din the emergency packs of aircraft operating over desert areas. 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. 48 pages with several line drawings. 

This booklet was probably issued to British forces in the Southeast Asia during World War II.  The basic information on dealing with potential hazards in jungles and on the sea is accompanied by a few line drawings. The book inexplicably concludes with six pages of photographs of 'Far Eastern Types', Chinese, Japanese and Malay males, with no instructions on how to survive encounters with them. Very Good Paperback 37 pages. 

A prominent historian of Southeast Asia reviews the history leading up to the formation of the modern states in the region. He marvels at their resilience considering that, in most cases, their peoples were flung together on the whims of past colonial rulers. New Paperback. First Edition. 248 pages. For further details, please see the scanned contents page.

The emergence in Southeast Asia  of former colonised states with large Muslim populations has increased the opportunities for and amplified the voices of Islamic thinkers grappling with  fundamental issues in a globalised world. This collection of essays highlights responses to such issues as liberalism, human rights, Sufi beliefs and education amongst others. New Paperback. First Edition. 172 pages with a bibliography and an index. 

As any Asian visitor to or new resident of Western countries will soon discover, not only the pronunciation of Asian names will baffle their hosts but also fitting Asian naming systems into the 'normative' systems of passports and identity cards will cause problems. As this book explains, it is not surprising since Asia, particularly Southeast Asia, has some of the most sophisticated naming systems in the world. The collection of contributions in this book do not give an overall account of the various naming systems in the area but highlights examples from China, Japan, Indonesia,  Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Sri Lanka and Taiwan. New Paperback. First Edition. 339 pages with a bibliography and an index. 

A brief history of the Muslim involvement in the Eastern spice trade with a selection of recipes of 'Definitive Dishes of the Islamic World.' Very Good Paperback  79 pages with several colour illustrations. 


A comprehensive look at how Buddhism developed in China and how it still remains such an important element of Chinese culture today. New Paperback. First Edition. 221 pages. For further details, please see the scanned contents page.