Blog Archive

Tuesday 29 March 2022


New Arrivals at The Penang Bookshelf


March 2022

(Last Updated 29-03-2022)

  • 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 orders under 2 kg to Singapore.

Malaysia & Singapore - The 'Emergency'

Some 30 years after the conclusion of 'The Emergency this book analyses not only the military, but also the administrative, economic, political and social aspects of the conflict. In particular the author looks at what lessons can be learned from the use of the hearts and minds approach to combating guerilla war. Very Good paperback  Third printing. Originally published in 1989 286 pages. Contents - 1, The Return of the British, 2 - The Path to Revolution, 3 - Between Two Millstones, 4 - Resettlement, Fear and Prosperity, 5 - Changes at the Top, 6 - Beginning the Battle for Hearts and Minds, 7 - The Political Ingredient, 8 - The Final Years and a select bibliography. Very Good Hardback in a Near Fine Dust Jacket  

Based on British army experience in the Boer War, and later taken up by the United States in Vietnam, villagers deemed to be potential supporters of the guerrilla forces during the Malayan 'Emergency', were forcibly removed from their homes and placed in 'New Villages.', where they could be more closely monitored by the Government forces. In this book, based on an award winning doctoral thesis, the author retells the villagers experiences backed up by extensive archival and oral research. New Paperback. First Edition. 318 pages. For further details, please see the scanned contents page. 

Malaysia & Singapore - Anthropology & Sociology

In this book, Cole, an anthropologist from the University of Chicago, sets himself a large task, i.e. to describe the history, manners and customs of the Philippines, present day Indonesia and Malaysia and some of the Pacific Islands. He confines himself to people of Malayic or pre-Malayic origin. The purpose of the book was to inform colonial decision makers in the immediate post World War II era as they weighed up their future. 354 pages including chapters on Prehistory of Malaysia and the Adjacent Mainland, Historical Review, The Pygmies, The Sakai, The Malay of the Peninsula, The Philippines, Borneo, Bali, Java, Sumatra & Nias. There are about 40 illustrations and maps, three appendices on Tribal Maps, Physical Types and a Distribution Chart of Cultural Traits respectively as well as a bibliography and index. Very Good First Edition Hardback

Malaysia & Singapore - Architecture

A Penang born architect, having spent three decades lecturing at the National University of Singapore's School of Architecture, in this book presents his working life's work, i.e. a detailed study of the domestic architecture of the wealthy during the heyday of its colonial period. His informed text is supported by a wealth of current and historic photographs and building plans. Near Fine Hardback in a Fine Dust Jacket. First Edition 186 pages Please see the scan of the contents page for further details.

Malaysia & Singapore - Arts & Crafts

A guide to the sculpture of the Mah Meri, an indigenous people of the Malay Peninsula. The items described are in possession of the National Museum of Malaysia. This is a reprint of an article in the Federation Museums Journal of 1964. Near Fine Paperback. 22 pages with several black and white plates. 

Malaysia & Singapore - Biography & Memoir

This work is the first full biography of one of the architects of the expansionist phase of British influence and control over the Malayan peninsula. For this Swettenham was rewarded with his appointment as the first Resident General of the Federated Malay States in 1971. He ended the Malayan part of his career more than 30 years later as Governor and Commander in Chief of the Straits Settlements. Although the author 
displays painstaking scholarship based on his thorough research of original papers, he has also produced a readable study of his fascinating subject.  783 pages with a dozen diagrams and maps, nearly a hundred black and white illustrations, an appendix listing Swettenham's letters to the Times newspaper, a bibliography and an index. Near Fine Hardback in a Near Fine Dust Jacket. First Edition

Stewart Wavell's explorations take us  deep into Malayan forests which still cover most of the country . His macho adventures are vividly pictured in a multitude of dangerous situations often by himself or with  aboriginal forest dwellers in the midst of the Malayan 'Emergency'.  195 pages with 20 black and white photographs.   Good a Good Dust Jacket

Frank Swettenham's preface, which opens with the words 'It is well for the Malay races of Sarawak that they should find an advocate in their Ranee, for she loves them,' shows him at his insightful and patronising best. The Ranee then proceeds to match him in imperiousness with her opening words - 'Everyone has heard of Rajah Brooke. He was my husband's uncle, and this is how he became ruler of Sarawak.' She became Ranee about forty years before this book was written and gave up the position on her husband's death shortly after the book was published. So this biography gives the reader a rare insight into life behind the scenes in the anomaly that was the Sarawak of the Brookes. 320 pages with a map on the inside front cover and a front end paper, 27 black and white plates and an index. Originally published in 1913. Very Good Paperback. Reprint

This book is based on a manuscript recording the experiences of a British customs official appointed to serve on the Bornean island of Labuan in the immediate aftermath of World War Two. Knowles records the slow transformation of the island and his difficulties in both carrying out his job and caring for his young family. He was a keen photographer. So the book is illustrated with 67 of his black and white photographs. New Hardback in a New Dust Jacket. First Edition. 109 pages.


This collaboration between Hose, a seasoned civil servant in the Brooke administration, and McDougall, an anthropologist, who had visited Sarawak, is based on more than a decade's research. Whereas Ling Roth's earlier The Natives of Sarawak and British North Borneo was a collection of others' research, this work was resulted from research by the authors mainly in the Baram and Rejang Districts. Near Fine Hardback in a Near Fine Dust Jacket Reprint. Originally published in 1912. 374 pages including four maps of the Malay Archipelago, Borneo, Sarawak and the Baram District. 67 black and white plates, and an index.

Malaysia & Singapore - Business Economics & Labour

This book was published at a time when companies controlled by Bumiputera, those categorised by the Constitution as being indigenous to the country, was on the rise. This came about because the government of the time embarked on a scheme of privatisation of former public assets and in many cases the main beneficiaries were corporations controlled by Bumiputera. Good Paperback. Second Edition. 372 pages 

Malaysia & Singapore - Cooking & Food

Tropical Vegetables of Malaysia & Singapore - Wendy Hutton  RM100

An introduction to over 50 vegetables to be found in markets in Malaysia and Singapore. Each vegetable is described in detail with an accompanying colour photograph. There are also culinary options given for many of the vegetables as well as five recipes. As New Hardback. 64 pages with an index

Malaysia & Singapore - Environment, Nature & Wildlife

Malesian Orchid Journal Vol 25 (2021) - Andre Schuiteman (ed)  RM120

For details of the subjects covered in this issue, please ask. New Paperback. First Edition  108 pages

A record of the author's quest to discover and promote mainly forest edible plants used by the Semai and Temuan peoples, Orang Asli/Indigenous peoples of Malaysia. Each plant is illustrated by watercolours by the author. Scientific and common names are also given. New Paperback. Reprint. 71 pages with numerous colour illustrations and line drawings. 71 pages 

An account of the efforts being made to save  from extinction the hairy rhinoceros in Malaysia . The work that has been undertaken so far is presented in such a way as to be useful for similar interventions in other parts of Asia. New Hardback in a New Dust Jacket. 216 pages.

This is a facsimile reprint of Stapf's 1894 monograph. The work is based on the collection of George D Haviland on the mountain in 1892 and deposited at Kew Gardens later that year. The work includes 443 taxa and remains to this day one of the most significant works on the mountain's flora. Near Fine Hardback in a Fine Dust Jacket Reprint. 221 pages with 10 black and white plates and line drawings. 

A guide to over 120 orchids to be found in Malaysia and Singapore with colour photos of each plant together with botanical and distribution information. Near Fine Paperback 64 pages with an index. 

Malaysia & Singapore - Fiction

Fauconnier and Pierre Boulle were two Frenchmen who managed to capture Malaya before independence better than many English language novelists of the time. This classic about the life of a planter in a remote part of the country won the Prix Goncourt in 1930. Translated from the original French by Eric Sutton. Good. Paperback. Reprint. 247 pages. 

This evocative family drama runs between Ceylon/Sri Lanka and Malaya/Malaysia in the period before, during and after the second world war over several generations. The book is split into different parts covering the compelling story of each generation in this well reviewed first novel. 432 pages.

A tragic tale, set in 19th century Borneo, on the miserable life of a Dutch merchant. This was Conrad's first novel and introduces themes, such as the clash of East and West and the disastrous effects of colonialism, which were to reoccur in his later works Good Paperback. Reprint. Originally published in 1895. 134 pages.

A posthumously published collection of four short stories by an author better known in Malaysia's advertising world. The stories work on two different levels, the obvious and the hidden, where the reader needs to do a bit of work. 85 pages.

This is a selection of Somerset Maugham's stories inspired by his experiences in pre-independence Malaya. The stories include The Letter, The Four Dutchmen, The Outstation, The Vessel of Wrath, Flotsam and Jetsam, The Book Bag, Raw Materials, The Yellow Streak, Masterson & The Back of Beyond  Very Good Paperback Reprint 

Malaysia - History (19th Century)

This book looks at the interactions between the Dutch, established in the Malay Archipelago for more than a century, and the British, beginning with their interference from the acquisition of Penang until the Anglo-Dutch Treaty of 1824, which sought to bring some regulation to their rivalry. Tarling not only analyses the powers' actions on the ground, but also sets them within a wider global context of international diplomacy which often affected decision making in the colonies. First edition. 189 pages For further details, please see the scanned contents page. Very Good Hardback in a Good Dust Jacket. Signed by the Author with a dedication to Percival Spear, the late British historian.

A collection of impressions of Singapore, based on travellers' accounts, of life there in the 19th century. The memories are amplified by a range of illustrations, in both black and white and colour, including ephemera, maps, photographs and line drawings. Fine Hardback. 87 pages with a bibliography and an index

Malaysia - History (20th Century)

This is a primarily an analysis of the events that led up to Malaya's independence in 1957. While the impact of the Second World War was significant on nationalist aspirations, the unusual mix of different ethnic groups gave rise to a range of visions as to what an independent Malaya would look like. Harper's research seeks to demonstrate just how these different influences, also buffeted by the upheaval of the 'Emergency', increased urbanisation and social change, contributed to the final result. Very Good Paperback. 417 pages with tables, a bibliography and an index. 

Gilmour was Secretary for Economic Affairs and then Financial Secretary and Acting Colonial Secretary in Singapore from 1946 to 1953. This is his account, as part of the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies' oral history project, in the rebuilding of Singapore's war battered economy, thus laying the foundation for the island's subsequent financial success. Very Good Paperback. First Edition 102 pages.

Malaysia & Singapore - Language & Linguistics

This vocabulary was compiled in the late 19th century. The Sulu information is based on 13 years research by the author in Sulu and Malaya. The Malay information is taken from Marsden's Dictionary of the Malay Language and Maxwell's Manual of the Malay Language. Very Good Paperback. Reprint 288 pages

Malaysia & Singapore - Malay Community & Culture

A novel set amongst the Communist forces in Malaya and Singapore during World War II and the 'Emergency.' The book follows Liew Teck and Kang Siew as they join the resistance movement in the jungle and their experiences afterwards. The focus is particularly on the difficulties of the Straits Chinese during both conflicts. With a Foreword by Spencer Chapman who declares the book  to be 'entirely authentic.' Very Good Hardback in a Good Dust Jacket. First Edition 189 pages.

Malaysia & Singapore – Numismatics

Each currency of these three countries is described in detail with information about size, measurements and colour. There is an extensive range of black and white plates. As New Paperback. Reprint. Originally published in 1971 This book has 123 pages in total with references and numismatic publications. 

Malaysia & Singapore - Peranakan/Straits Chinese

Building on their collaboration in writing about and photographing houses influenced by Chinese design in Asia, Knapp and Ong in this book turn their attention to the architecture, artifacts and customs of the Peranakan Chinese. This group of emigrants settled in Southeast Asia before the major influxes from the 19th century onwards, married into their host communities and produced a distinct culture. The informative text and lavish photographs highlight the Peranakans' multicultural tastes, drawing on influences from Chine, Europe and their new home communities. New Hardback in a New Dust Jacket. 160 pages. For further details, please see the scanned contents page

Malaysia & Singapore - Transport

This report includes the findings of a group of Indian  transport experts that were commissioned by the Government of the Federation of Malaya to look into what role the Malayan railways could play in the development of the economy, whether it could pay its way in doing so and what capital might need to be injected by the Government. The book was formerly owned by NHS Reid, Secretary to the Ministry of Transport in Malaya. There is a letter from one of the Indian consultants to him laid in the book. 68 pages including several tables. Very Good Hardback. First Edition. 


A study of the declining role of the female shaman, or belian, amongst the Dusun of Brunei. This is not only happening in the midst of efforts to assimilate the Dusun into the dominant Muslim state, but also because of the decline of rice cultivation, increased urbanisation and the greater availability of Western medicine. Near Fine Hardback in a Near Fine Dust Jacket. 287 pages with a bibliography and an index.


Although Chinese ceramic exports to Western markets are better known internationally, Chinese manufacturers simultaneously were catering for the Malayan Archipelago market as well. This book contains descriptions and colour plates of some of the best examples in the collection at the National Museum in Kuala Lumpur. Near Fine Hardback in a Fine Dust Jacket First Edition 99 pages with references and an index in Malaysia. 

An account of the author's return to Shanghai 30 years after her family fled the upheavals brought about by the Communist revolution in China. She links up with an old family retainer who helps her trace her family's history through several generations. Good Paperback. Reprint. 242 pages with an index. 

Indonesia - Biography & Memoirs

Lockhart initially came out to Malaya to set up a rubber plantation in Negeri Sembilan, ran off with the ward of one of the sultans there and returned to the UK with malaria. In this book he returns in the 1930s on a fact finding trip to both British Malaya and the Dutch East Indies. His brief assessment was that the British maintained their rule by dressing for dinner and teaching 'the natives' to play soccer. Whereas he felt the Dutch had a much harder task in maintaining their position on the other other side of the Straits of Malacca. 426 pages with an index. Good Hardback in a Good Dust Jacket


Maya Angelou's acclaimed autobiography of her early years mainly growing up in the South of the United States. Good Paperback.