Monday, November 28, 2005


NEVER make a brilliant woman angry. Someone obviously did because in
1970, Germaine Greer came out with a book entitled The Female Eunuch.
It was an overnight success. All the women who had always wanted to be
liberated fi nally found their icon. Those men who caught a glimpse of
Greer were aghast. "Who's this creature?" they asked.
Born in Melbourne, Australia, in 1939, Greer was labelled as one of the
most powerful voices of feminism in the 20th century. Till today, this
professor of literature at Warwick University in Britain is a
controversial figure.
The Australian political journalist, Christine Wallace, who wrote a
biography of Germaine Greer described her as "hegemonic heterosexuality",
"anachronistic passivity", and "grooviness personifi ed".
In reply, Greer called her a "flesh-eating bacterium" and "dung-beetle".
This woman of socially-shocking proportions began her academic career back
in 1956 when she won a teaching scholarship. During her varsity years, she
acquired the nickname "Germainic Queer".
Life never became the same after she joined the Sydney Push, a bunch of
intellectual left-wingers who practised non-monogamy.
The six-footer Greer was a natural at academic pursuits as her peers
found out because, in 1963, she picked up an MA at the University of
Her sterling achievement gained her a Commonwealth scholarship that she
used to finance her PhD programme at the University of Cambridge. Five
years later, she accepted a lecturing post at the University of Warwick.
In The Female Eunuch, all the years of growing up as a woman restrained
by societal norms and restrictions allegedly created by man in general
manifested in expressions of anger and repressed frustrations.
Greer talks about the hostility of men towards women and how women were
conditioned to hate themselves from cradle to grave. She pounced on the
nuclear family system and suburban existence for enslaving women, thus
making them "eunuchs".
It was a most controversial conclusion reached by a feminist with a
brilliant academic background. The book triggered a runaway sale and, by
March 1971, it almost exhausted its second edition. Countries in other
parts of the developed world quickly took notice of The Female Eunuch and
it was soon published in eight languages.
In this landmark book, Greer's rallying cry was "subjugation". She
points an accusing fi nger at the Western concept of female sexuality
which she said made women ashamed of their bodies and sucked the joy of
life out of them. Any member of the male clan who has read this book will
be surprised that a woman can speak so frankly and in such strong terms.
The book is almost flamboyant in its intellectual rhetoric and nerve-
wrecking in its passionate arguments, especially to the men.
At best, Germaine Greer has done women worldwide a service by openly
revealing what have been their heart's deepest secrets but were socially
suppressed until it found expression in a proper avenue. At worst, she has
widened and deepened the misunderstanding between the roles of women and
men as cast by the Western society for centuries.
Today, the postulations and pronouncements of The Female Eunuch are no
longer an issue. Perhaps it is due to the groundwork laid down by
headstrong women like Greer and her admirers.
Whatever the personal opinions may be, this book was a wonderful read
three decades and five years ago, as it still is today. You may not agree
wholeheartedly with Greer but you certainly cannot help but admire her
intellectual depth and deep convictions.
A final recommendation: all women on the threshold of early adulthood
should spend some time with this book. All the young men, too, should read
it, if they want to be someone else's life partners of admirable social
intelligence and cheerful disposition.

IN 1943, during the height of the Second World War, the philosopher Ayn
Rand wrote a book that would mark a milestone in the literary world.
The book was The Fountainhead, which in later years allegedly became the
"bible" of architects the world over.
In Fountainhead, Rand expounded her now-famous treatise of objectivism.
It promotes the cause of individualism in a world torn asunder by greed,
moral decline and crumbling social standards.
From the debris of human avarice and lustful longings strode her
protagonist, Howard Roark. He's the epitome of Rand's Utopian man. Roark
is an architectural genius who cannot be bribed, cannot be cowed and
absolutely cannot be suppressed or oppressed.
In his quiet strength, Roark was to rise from the ground on which he
seemingly had been trampled to the heights yet unreached by men in the
same profession.
Personally, the book had a powerful and lingering influence in my life.
I read the book when I was on the threshold of adulthood about a quarter
of century ago. At that time, my inchoate philosophies of life were still
in their formative stage. Ayn Rand therefore became larger than life to
me. I couldn't imagine, at that age, that an individual could elevate
philosophy to such an exciting level. It was exhilarating, profound and
well thought-out. The bottom line was an enduring admiration for an author
with whom I only had a fleeting familiarity.
The Fountainhead is undoubtedly one of the finest novels of its time and
continues to have wide following, especially in America. It is stirring
without being too forceful, stimulating without being overbearing, and
profound without cryptic. If there are two words to describe this book,
they are "intellectually stimulating".
In the midst of a powerful and suspenseful story, love blazes between
Roark and Dominique Francon, a beautiful newspaper columnist.
As only Rand would have spun it, the tale careens around the tight plot
with Dominique determined to ruin Roark's career. But a love as strong as
theirs cannot be derailed, conquered or forgotten.
The Fountainhead has several characters of varying strengths; among
these is Ellsworth Toohey, a humanitarian of some repute.
He plays a prominent role in Roark's rise from the ashes, principally
from the lowly station of a mine labourer to the pinnacle of architectural
In some ways, The Fountainhead re-arranged my life's priorities. It
taught me to hold on fast to my principles despite the overwhelming odds
that were sometimes not in my favour.
During those times when I felt the temptation of "taking the easy way
out", the memory of a character like Howard Roark strengthened my resolve
to march to the bitter end.
There's much satisfaction in emulating a persona like Howard Roark.
Nothing rattles him. He's like a rock in a hard place. Heck, he's both.
Been there, done that and back home safe. That's what they say.
The Fountainhead is for anybody who needs reassurance that an individual
is capable to performing great deeds, only if he has unshakeable belief in
For 60 years, the shadow of Howard Roark has loomed large over sections
of our thinking society.
Ayn Rand's philosophy lives on in some of us and is practised by many
unknown and unnamed individuals.
Objectivism is a philosophy and belief that, if practised right and
lived according to its core principles, can lift human endeavours to mind-
boggling heights - even in the 21st century.
42 Martial Secrets from Musashi's Book of Five Rings
By Boye Lafayette de Mente
Tuttle Publishing

FOUR-hundred-and-twenty-one years ago (1584) in Japan, a man was born,
destined for greatness. Long before his death in 1645, at the age of 61,
he was already a legend among his people.
For a samurai whose chief business was engaging in duels that often
ended in violent deaths, Miyamoto Musashi led a life that legends were
made of. Besides being an invincible swordsman, he was also a
calligrapher, painter, poet, sculpter and a garden designer.
At an early age of 13, he had already killed his first opponent, a
shugyosha (a wandering warrior).
In the years that followed, Musashi fought in duels that involved
highly-skilled swordsmen from different samurai clans. What made
Musashi's swordfighting skills so unusual was his ability to "read" his
opponent's moves.
Physically powerful, he believed in strict discipline, especially on
himself. The fact that he remained a bachelor all his life was not
strange. He allowed nothing to distract him, especially women. His mind
was in a constant state of alert and he trained with a passion unequalled
in the Land of the Rising Sun.
In his late fifties, Musashi wrote Go Rin Sho on the urging of a
samurai lord, Tadatoshi Hosokawa. Musashi's 15-page treatise became known
as The 35 Articles of the Martial Arts. Actually, it contained 36
articles and it later became known as The Book of Five Rings.
Samurai Strategies is based on his principles of fighting techniques.
For decades, Japanese businessmen have learnt and memorised Musashi's
martial arts principles and applied them in business practices.
The fact that many Japanese corporations today are among some of the
biggest investors in the developed and developing worlds is testimony
that the spirit of Musashi continues to prevail in the 21st century.
Musashi's principles are pretty straightforward. First, to be a winner,
one must set goals. In other words, if you want to be an entrepreneur,
make up your mind to be the best, if not, one of the top three in the
Then, develop an extraordinary degree of self-discipline. It is only
through discipline that one can hone skills that are necessary for
ultimate victory.
The third principle touches on training. Train only to win, and win
absolutely. This can be applied in any field. In business, training to
win is the means justifying the end.
Musashi urges all who listen to be always prepared - mentally and
physically. Expect the unexpected. This means going into battle with
little or no advance warning.
The famous samurai also does not believe in set forms of fighting. Much
akin to Bruce Lee's tenet of no-style fighting. Perhaps Lee had also read
Musashi's Book of Five Rings.
The human mind is an arsenal. First, train the mind and then clear the
mind. Zen practitioners have long tried to master the art of clearing the
mind, called zazen or seated meditation.
For those who have not experienced this state of zen called mushin (no
mind) or muga (no ego), victory is but a distant memory. Lafayette de
Mente, the author of Samurai Strategies, understands the principle of
training the body, and then "letting it go".
The true warrior fights without thought because the art has become him.
It is a philosophy understood by Olympic champions and world athletes. In
sports, it is sometimes called "in the zone". That's when the athlete
reaches the state where his mind and body are one and he becomes
Musashi was also a firm believer in the power of emptiness. That's when
the subconscious surfaces and take complete control of the body. That,
according to the zen masters, is the heart of the art, whether it be
painting or fighting.
This book of 128 pages is extraordinarily enlightening. It has
distilled what was once the cryptic and maybe even mystic into matters of
simplicity. Most great matters are in the end quite simple, as most deep
issues are after much profound thought.
Strangely, Samurai Strategies does not read like a business manual or
handbook. It illuminates without being pedantic, and elucidates without
being elaborate.
Any reader with a modicum of martial arts knowledge would be delighted
to browse through its pages of ancient advice. Lafayette de Mente is an
expert on Japan, its culture and people.
He has written more than 30 books on Korea, China and Japan. His
previous profession before becoming a writer was an intelligence officer
in an American agency. We can only guess what it was.
Samurai Strategies cuts a path through the bamboo grove as easily as a
samurai slashes his opponent down to size with his sword. The book is
like a mind-exercising machine. It re-assembles a warrior's scattered
thoughts and focuses his mind like a laser beam.
In simple terms, the book helps the reader-warrior to be one with his
heart and mind, just as master samurai Miyamoto Musashi had always been
one with his sword.

ATLAS Shrugged is truly one of the most remarkable novels of the 20th
Its influence on American society is so far-reaching that in a survey
carried out by the US Library of Congress in co-operation with the Book of
the Month, the book has been ranked number two as having the greatest
impact on individuals after the Bible.
First released in 1957, the book and in particular its Russian-born
author, Ayn Rand, today still have an intellectual impression of lingering
proportions on its readers. In 1998, a documentary entitled Ayn Rand: A
Sense of Life garnered wide acclaim in Canada and America. The following
year, the US Postal Service issued a commemorative Ayn Rand stamp. Atlas
Shrugged has been described as Rand's magnum opus. The author has infused
the novel with her own brand of philosophy called Objectivism. In her own
words in the appendix to Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand wrote: "My philosophy,
in essence, is the concept of man as a heroic being, with his own
happiness as the moral purpose of his life, with productive achievement as
his noblest activity, and reason as his only absolute."
And what is her philosophy? Rand says it is "the fundamental nature of
existence, of man, and of man's relationship to existence...
In the realm of cognition, the special sciences are the trees, but
philosophy is the soil which makes the forest possible".
Man is the hero in this astounding book and he comes in the form of John
The most famous line in the entire novel is "who is John Galt?" Villains
and protagonist feature greatly in this story about "murder" but it's not
the kind of murder that you are familiar with.
It is "not about the murder of man's body, but about the murder - and
rebirth - of man's spirit," wrote Rand. It dwells at length on the
deterioration of America. Shops, farms and factories shut down. Riots
break out as food supplies dwindle. Characters in the likes of a genius
who becomes a playboy; a steel industrialist on the path of self-
destruction and a philosopher-cum-pirate populated the pages of Atlas
The interplay of human relations is intricate and complexity of human
emotions is interwoven into the matrix created in the mind of Rand.
But like The Fountainhead (the other novel by Ayn Rand), there's always
a love interest and she is Dagny Taggart. Even in the intellectually
complex mental machinations of Rand's imaginings, love is that intractable
and inexplicable X-factor that makes up that essential part of man's
purpose on earth.
If I may, this novel can be said to be one gigantic action-cum-suspense
novel, although it does not run along the same lines as any book that
carries a similar description. That's what makes it so great.
Fans of Ayn Rand will no doubt have read her other books like We the
Living (1936) and Anthem (1946). But The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged
are the cornerstones that mark Rand's everlasting fame in the literary
Rand's philosophy of Objectivism has apparently struck a chord among
thinking individuals across the oceans and her rallying cry of man's
inextinguishable individualism resonates relentlessly from boardroom to
By Cecilia Tan Chun Huang
Publisher: Mall Enterprises Sdn Bhd

MOST mothers in this world want to see their children grow up to be
filial, successful, hardworking, intelligent and disciplined members of
Fathers share the same aims with their spouses but mothers somehow are
more concerned about their children. Perhaps it's because they carry them
for nine months before the infants emerge into the world.
Almost all children who grow up under the tender, loving care of their
mums remember their mothers most when they have become adults. It seems
to be the duty of mothers to worry and care for their children no matter
how old they are.
Even if a son or a daughter has become middle-aged, in their mother's
eyes they are still her own.
And thus, on this premise is this book founded. Cecilia Tan has
lovingly and courageously put in a permanent form all the advice and tips
she has thought of for her three young adult children, twins James and
Benjamin and daughter Elizabeth.
In her motherly quest, she has inadvertently passed on some valuable
advice to all the children belonging to other mothers as well. It is not
uncommon to hear one's mum giving unsolicited advice almost on a daily
basis when we were growing up.
A lot of these nuggets of wisdom have stuck in our heads, which we
later passed on to our own children whether they want to listen or not.
Much like us, when we were growing up in our wondering and wandering
There are eight parts to this book, from A to H. As it should be, Part
A emphasises a strong spiritual foundation. The child can be of any
religious background, the principles can still apply.
In Tan's case, Christianity holds first place in the household.
Children, as a matter of routine, normally accept religious education as
part of growing up. Many of them forget its importance as they enter the
threshold of adulthood.
But they will soon appreciate it when they are married and have
children of their own. Then, they realise the common sense embedded in
religious teachings.
Sometimes, we wish we had listened more intently to our parents' advice
on religion, if they are so inclined.
Part B deals with emotional hygiene. It dwells on traits and habits
that will smoothen the passage to the grave for any individual. For
example, a healthy sense of humour, a cheerful disposition, an ability to
count one's blessings, an inclination to accept change and a personal
decision to always be happy.
Tan no doubt has undergone many of such vital passages of life to
impart many essential tips of living a happy life. The book is elegant in
its simplicity and joyful in its gentle reminders.
As a parent myself, I understand her courageous effort to say it all
from her heart.
The writer's diligence in putting together in print form all the things
she wants to say to her children can only be applauded.
What parent can disagree with a mother teaching her children the right
thinking style (Part C), or taking the proper approach towards human
relationships (Part D)?
There's clearly nothing wrong with reminding the little ones about
making time for your dear ones or forgiving those who have hurt you.
These may be considered by some to be "old" advice but nevertheless their
significance is evergreen as the generations go.
The book slips easily into discussing one's own health (Part E) as we
add on the years. Drinking lots of water, fresh air and eating fresh food
is plain common sense. But it's always our mum who lovingly nags us about
all these things incessantly.
It would also be good if we hear more earnestly to advice about how we
should enjoy our work if we do not want to be victims of premature ageing
(Part F). Many adults these days do not have a positive attitude towards
their work or do the best they can without being asked. Tan has mentioned
all these subjects and more.
Then there are the aspects of money (Part G) and the usage of time
(Part H). It is not a secret that a good number of young professionals
find themselves strapped for cash by the middle of the month due to poor
budget control. Well, mum Cecilia Tan has some things to say about this.
And she also knows how to manage time. You really don't have to attend
time management workshops and seminars if you pay attention to some
motherly advice on making checklists and adopting some sensible
timesaving habits.
It is time that a mother has finally come up with a book like this. I
wish I had such a book to read when I was growing up. In a way, I am glad
my own mother found the time to give me the benefit of her experiences
when I was loitering in the house during those rainy days.
Tan has dedicated the book to her parents and her father-in-law. All
three are in their 80s. Two are close to 90. With a combined total of
more than 250 years among them, Tan is clearly one of the fortunate ones
who has learn to live well and now she shares the lessons that the elders
have taught her.
We all should celebrate in the happiness that she rightly deserves and
help to spread her gentle and loving tips of being good people to our
young ones.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

10 Most Popular Books in The World

According to, the 10 are (in that order, please):

1. Bible (six billion copies sold)
2. Quotations from the works of Mao Tse-tung (800 million sold)
3. American Spelling Book (100 million sold)
4. The Guinness Book of Records (81 million sold)
5. The McGuffey Reader (60 million sold)
6. A Message To Garcia (40-50 million sold)
7. World Almanac (40 million)
8. The Common Sense Book of Baby and Child Care (39.2 million)
9. Valley of Dolls (30 million sold)
10. In His Steps: What Would Jesus Do?

ACTUALLY, if you were to apply logic and reason into the listing of the world's 10 most popular books, there are probably as many lists as there are member nations in the United Nations.
First, every country has its own preference. For example, in China where English is not the main language and Mandarin is, the list will of course reflect the population make-up of the country and its people.
We should not forget that China has about 10,000 years of history but only 5,000 years of recorded history of civilisation is recognised. India also has a similar length of civilisation. At this juncture, we shall not go into Egypt, Incan or the Aztecs. Too complicated.
Anyway, as I was saying, each community or group of people has its own list of great books. The West being the dominant sector of the globe tends to be overly prominent in the record of 10 most popular books.
By right, we should actually saying what are the 10 most popular books in the English language?" Or, what are the "10 most popular books in Spain, China, Malaysia or Japan?" That would be more accurate.
The 10 most popular books mean simply that - popular. The list does not mean the 10 are the most significant. Now, if you were to ask "what are the 10 most important books that have altered the history of mankind?" Perhaps we will get nearer to the truth.
But then what is the truth? Truth about what? Truth about the 10 most significant books in the world. Honestly, people are apt to disagree on just about anything, and if it is books, all the louder the protests.
The Chinese in mainland China will disagree and they have the numbers to prove it. The West will frown on anything that does not jell with its Western history and civilisation. Thus, a stalemate looms large even at the outset of such a debate.
Over in America, there's an interesting story about censorship. It all started in 1872 with this guy called Anthony Comstock. Comstock was the pioneer of modern American Censorship. In 1872, Anthony Comstock founded the New York Society for the Suppression of Vice.
The following year (1873), he managed to convince the US Congress to pass what was known as the Comstock Law which banned materials found to be "lewd, indecent, filthy, obscene".
Comstock's winning slogan at that time was "Morals, not art and literature." Surprisingly, many people took his side at that time in American history.
According to the First Amendment Center Organisation, Between 1874 and 1915, as special agent of the U.S. Post Office, he is estimated to have confiscated 120 tons of printed works. Under his reign, 3,500 people were prosecuted although only about 350 were convicted. Books banned by Comstock included many classics: Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, The Arabian Nights, and Aristophanes’ Lysistrata. Authors whose works were subsequently censored under the Comstock Law include Ernest Hemingway, James Joyce, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Victor Hugo, D.H. Lawrence, John Steinbeck, Eugene O’Neill and many others whose works are now deemed to be classics of literature.
Shocking, isn't it? Well, times have changed and people have broadened their outlook and obscenity has taken different hues. This again is a matter of debate.
Then there are the Most Challenged Books and Most Controversial Books categories. In US again, there were complaints against books like Maya Angelou's "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings," J.D. Salinger's "The Catcher in the Rye," John Steinbeck's "Of Mice and Men" and Mark Twain's "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn."
Even Harry Potter series were not spared by the iron-claded moral-fibred protestors. This goes to show that if society allows anyone to guard the morals of others, then you may just end up reading Beano and Dandy comics.
Shockingly, some of the banned titles were children's favorites as Maurice Sendak's "In the Night Kitchen" and R.L. Stine's "Goosebumps" series. Acclaimed adult novels on the list include Margaret Atwood's "The Handmaid's Tale," Kurt Vonnegut's "Slaughterhouse-Five" and Nobel laureate Toni Morrison's "Beloved."
Also cited are William Golding's "The Lord of the Flies," Aldous Huxley's "Brave New World" and Harper Lee's "To Kill a Mockingbird," removed in 1996 from an advanced placement English reading list in Lindale, Texas, because it "conflicted with the values of the community."
However, the good news is that the law and society in general do not really follow up with these so-called "bans". People still continue to read whatever pleases them or strikes their fancy.
In fact, the general notion is that if the word "banned" comes into the picture, it becomes popular overnight. So some writers actually welcome the banning by the authorities. If the authors are not popular or a big name in the literary circle, all the more they want the attention. Heck, they demand it.
Meanwhile, you should just read the classics. There are some great books there.

P.S. The passages marked in bold are taken from an Associated Press report.

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Everything You Wanted To Ask About Mills & Boon But Were Simply Too Shy!

THERE are a number of people out there who have sneaked Mills & Boon romance books into their bedroom and read them on the quiet. Girls, of course, have been reading them rather openly and are not shy about it.
The lads, I fear, are the ones who don't want to be caught reading girly stuff like Mills & Boon. With my right palm over my heart, I now swear I have read Mills & Boon books and are not afraid to admit it. I rather enjoyed them too. Romance is an emotional subject which keeps our hopes, confidence and faith in the other gender alive all the time.
So in a way, Mills & Boon is unwittingly performing a vital function. Gerald Mills and Charles Boon started the Mills & Boon Ltd back in 1908. That's about 97 years ago. Initially, the enterprise began as a non-romance publishing house. However, strangely their first publication was a romance novel. I suppose that foretold its future.
For the next 20 years, nothing earth-shaking took place. Then the Great Depression descended on the world like a great plague. During those difficult years, there was one thing that people did not forget or got enough of - love. Thus, the Mills & Boon team decided it was time to inject some love into people's miserable lives.
Those depressing years saw Mills & Boon books being sold through what were called the weekly "two-penny libraries". I believe those were rental book business. The books were also aptly described as "the books in brown".
Then, in the 1950s, the lending trade took a dive but Mills & Boon's romance was still very much in the air.
Here in where Mills & Boon crossed paths with Harlequin of Canada. In 1949, Richard Bonnycastle started Harlequin Books. For the next two score and five years, Harlequin emerged from being a reprint publishing house into the world's largest enterprise of romance books.
Currently, Harlequin books are found in 100 overseas markets and its titles are translated into 23 languages around the world. Harlequin books are found in South and North America, China, Europe and the Middle East.
It has a range of romance titles that have caught the imagination of all those who have romance in their blood. In 1957, Harlequin began acquiring publishing rights to Mills & Boon romance titles. In seven short years, this Canadian publishing giant had cornered the market on romance books, printing its entire range.
In the fateful year of 1971, Harlequin bought over Mills & Boon and began expanding its empire. By the end of the 70s decade, there was nobody to challenge Harlequin in the romance field anymore. It has become king of romance and top dog of its own brand of business.
Harlequin's record of publishing books is a phenomenon by itself. Since 1949, it has printed three billion books. That's half the human population on earth.
Harlequin has numerous categories for its romance novels. They are categorised as Modern, Tender, Historical, Medical,By Request and Blaze. Under its Silhouette range, it has Desire, Special Edition, Sensation, Intrigue, SuperRomance and Spotlight, and Special Releases.
From the figures, readers know that romance is still very much alive among the human community. Who says romance is dead? Slap your boyfriend or husband if he says that!

Bloggers, take heed

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Thursday, October 20, 2005

P.Ramlee is one of Malaysia's most loved Malay actors. He set the trend of a singing actor back in the fifties. Since then, there had been no one who has been able to match his prowess as a singer as well as an actor who could reach people across racial lines.
P.Ramlee was one of those rare shining lights in the Malay film world. He died at a relatively young age but he lef behind a lifetime of memories. Till today, his songs and films still rule the airwaves and the silverscreen.

P.RAMLEE - The Bright Star
AUTHOR: James Harding and Ahmad Sarji
PUBLISHER: Pelanduk Publications

P. RAMLEE died at the relatively young age of 44 in 1973. In a career that spanned about 25 years, P. Ramlee left behind a cinematic legacy that has no equal in the Malay film industry.
Generations of Malaysians from across the ethnic divide have grown to love him and his evergreen songs.
This book is a rare find because P. Ramlee is a "lagenda" in his community, and there are not many books written in English about Malay film stars.
In the 1950's and 1960's, P. Ramlee was king of the Malayan cinema. His songs were played incessantly over the radio. We all loved the way he sang. Somehow, his melodious vocal chords won over our hearts.
P. Ramlee struck a common chord among the three major races. In several of his movies, Ramlee depicted the mannerisms of the Chinese, who he had come to know so well from his growing years in Penang. For that, the Chinese, in large numbers, adored him.
The Indians also liked him because he often projected himself as a friend who easily crossed the racial divide with ease and joy. Much as a bon vivant would wont to do. Many of his films and songs also had a distinct Hindi flavour.
This book, a collaboration between retired lecturer James Harding and former government chief secretary Ahmad Sarji, is a well-organised treatise on the man born Teuku Zakaria Teuku Nyak Puteh who was later registered in school as Ramlee bin Puteh. This was further modified to P.Ramlee.
It is interesting to note that the men who had great influence over P.Ramlee in his early acting years were well known Indian directors like L.Krishnan, Phani Majumdar, B.N. Rao, S. Ramanathan, K.M. Baskar and B.S.Rajhans. Ramlee's favourite Hollywood actor was Stewart Granger.
But as this book reveals, what separates P. Ramlee from those who came after him
is his songs. The actor crooned his way into the hearts of his generation of admirers. Many of his hit songs, written and sang by him, had lyrics and tunes that would gently jolt listeners to reminisce about the bygone days and a country that held a charm that bound all the different communities as if by magic. Part of that magic, as this book puts it, is P. Ramlee.
Songs like Getaran Jiwa have that special melody that glides quite smoothly across the racial plain and establishes an understanding beyond language.
This tome of many lesser known facts will thrill present-day Ramlee admirers with its charming revelations. The many famous actresses whom P.Ramlee wooed on-screen; the bujang lapok who became his lifelong friends, and those like Jins Shamsudin whom he helped along the way.
P. Ramlee - The Bright Star is also a good reference book. There are 22 pages detailing P. Ramlee's films and songs from 1948 to 1972.
Many who grew up listening to Ramlee's songs and watching some of his 63 films will agree that the actor/singer is a performer nonpareil. His voice still enchants whenever his songs are played over the airwaves. Truly, one song that P. Ramlee sang decades ago can now be aptly applied to him: Di Mana Kan Ku Cari Ganti (Where would I look for a replacement).

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This fish is quite popular among fish rearers in Southeast Asia. It seems that it is able to bring the owner enormous luck, depending on the pattern of its side scales. Whatever the attraction, its popularity has dipped somewhat compared to the time when the Arowana was "red hot" among the fish fanatics. These days, only the discerning and the hardcore are still breeding this species for hobby and for profit.

By Willie Si and Winston Sng
Published by Times Editions - Marshall Cavendish

ABOUT a decade ago, before the Flowerhorn Fish grabbed centre stage,
there was the Arowana.
At the height of its popularity, no businessman worth his millions would
be seen without at least one golden or red, adult-sized Arowana swimming
in an impressive aquarium inside his bungalow.
That was then. These days, even the fame of the Flowerhorn has taken a
dip. But Arowana or Dragon Fish as it is popularly known has continued to
be the exclusive property of those who claimed they know their fish.
The Dragon Fish has other names - namely, the Arawana, arrowana or the
aruana. The fish is native to the rivers of Southeast Asia, Australia,
Africa and South America.
Fossil evidence reveals that the Arowana is a creature that has its
origins em-bedded in prehistoric times. The Asian Arowana is the most
expensive because it is believed to be near extinct.
The life span of an Arowana is about 60 years so, unlike other pets, it
can live as long as you can, perhaps even longer. If it is well looked
after, it is believed that the fish will bring its owner an endless stream
of wealth and good fortune.
Thus, the Arowana was, and still is, an extremely popular fish. There
are several varieties of Arowana - green silver, black, red and golden.
Willie Si and his nephew, Winston Sng, have written this book for
Arowana lovers. Willie's association with the Arowana began in the mid
1980's when his brother Sammi complained about the difficulties of rearing
the Arowana.
Being a mechanic at that time, Willie took upon himself the challenge of
learning more about this fish. So what began as a mission to learn more
about the Arowana quickly developed into a passion and eventually became a
profession for Willie.
In 1991, The Straits Times and The New Paper of Singapore found out
about Willie the "fish doctor" and published two articles about him. It
was then rumoured that a book about Arowanas was also in the pipeline and
would be published in due course. What began as a dream is now a reality.
This book is the culmination of years of experimentation and invaluable
experience culled from rearing the Arowana.
This layman's guide should be read by all those who have developed a
deep interest in the Arowana. It has beautiful colour pictures. Valuable
tips, information and advice on looking after the Arowana abound between
the covers.
The Arowana is not the kind of fish to keep if you have just some spare
change. Like everything else of value, it requires a healthy budget.
Today, the price of a potentially beautiful infant Arowana can exceed
When fully grown, a beautiful Arowana can be priced above RM10,000. It
is a buyer-seller situation. The book informs all Arowana owners or
collectors that the vital points to remember about this fish is to keep it
healthy at all times.
Lighting in the aquarium must be strategically placed, to bring out the
magnificent colours of the fish.
Feeding of the Arowana must follow a strict schedule. Salt content of
the aquarium water should also be monitored closely.
The filtration system must be the right type, otherwise the fish may
become prone to fungus attack.
The rumours that surround the beautiful Arowana only add to its mystique
and popularity.
This guide book has vivid pictures of sick Arowanas. It displays
pictorial evidence of illness like off-coloured scales and gills and
advice on how to overcome these problems.
This book is a source of valuable information to those who want to learn
more about the dragon fish. It does not claim to have the last word on
this much sought-after aquarium fish but it does have lots of good advice
on how to make the hobby of rearing the Arowana a wonderful pastime.

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Tony Buzan is nicknamed Mr Memory. He has been teaching the subject for decades. If you pay attention to his explanations, you may be the next "clever chap" in your office. Now wouldn't that be great?

By Tony Buzan
Thorsons, HarperCollins Publishers

ANY book by mind master Tony Buzan is always a treat. Buzan has written
six other books on mind mapping.
As most of us know, everyone can think but the only catch is not many
think rightly or have right thoughts. Thinking is almost involuntary so
in the process of thought, there are methods of teaching a person to
channel his thought, a form of energy, in the right direction.
When thinking is done right, it gradually forms a network of ideas. And
when this thought process is nurtured correctly, the finished product is
called mind mapping.
Mind mapping guru Tony Buzan has been experimenting with the thought
process since 1964 when he graduated from the University of British
Columbia with double honours in psychology, mathematics and English.
Buzan has given a lot of thought to mental literacy, a phrase that he
coined. His first book Make the Most of Your Mind shot him to fame. He
loves to promote the mnemonic system that was developed more than 300
years ago. It is a system using digits and letters of the alphabets to
store limitless information in the mind.
Hence, The Ultimate Book of Mind Maps can be rightly labelled as an
all-in-one manual for those who want to change their lives, improve their
creativity and gain a super memory.
There are six easy chapters in this book. It begins with the
fundamentals of understanding the human mind. After you have learnt to
take the seven steps to creating a mind map, you will move on to knowing
more about the brain and unleashing its potential.
If it sounds very much like nuclear physics to you right now, then stop
and take a deep breath. By the way, that's good, too. A well-oxygenated
brain functions better and has clearer thoughts.
Buzan is so logical that it is embarrassing for the rest of us mortals.
But three chapters down the line, the fog clears up and the reader begins
to see in his "mind's eye" that there is actually a success formula of
understanding the nature of learning. It is found in TEFCAS. It stands
for Trial, Event, Feedback, Check, Adjust, Success.
Tefcas is an acronym that spells out the basic steps the human brain
takes to define an experience. Metaphorically, it is the flashlight which
the brain uses to light up areas that it knows nothing about. Basically,
it is a learning tool.
The book teaches its reader to link Tefcas and mind mapping to solve
problematic situations in a logical and reasonable manner. For example,
looking at a situation objectively and with the application of
intelligence come up with the most logical solution, allowing for a small
margin of error. It is something which Vulcan Dr Spock of Star Trek would
want to do.
Since intelligent thinking is a precious commodity in many professional
fields these days, this book's information is of immense importance to
those whose promotion relies heavily on their creativity.
First and foremost, the human brain operates "explosively and
radiantly". In other words, we are not like computers that engage in
linear or sequential thinking. The human brain is likened to be the most
powerful computer on earth and it can replace its own cells.
Here are the facts: the human brain has a million neurons or nerve
cells. Each of these cells is more powerful than any standard personal
computer. The number of internal map thoughts that a human brain is
capable of generating is almost incalculable. But if you really want to
know, it's one followed by 10.5 million kilometres of typewritten zeros.
If that is not mind-blowing enough for you, with each passing day, your
brain evolves with the on-going thought process. Thus, your brain today
won't be the same as it will be tomorrow. Every brain cell is constantly
making connections, and on and on it goes until you die.
This is a wonderful book. If you think you are inferior to others in
more ways than one, think again. Buzan shows you how to do mental
workouts to strengthen that "lame brain" of yours. He also teaches you to
achieve physical fitness so that your body will support the mind.
It's amazing that what has wrongly been perceived as a complex matter
has been distilled into simple and easy steps in intelligent thinking.
The human brain is thus a living organism that is capable of infinite
Hence, those documentaries you see on television about extraordinary
people performing amazing feats are merely brain-engineered acts carried
out by the human body. You too can do all those things and more, with
proper training and thinking, of course.
Like most human skills, mind mapping can only produce spectacular
results if you practise, practise and practise. There is hard work
involved but the rewards are mind-boggling. Think about it.

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If you ever wonder whether you can learn to protect yourself to some non-shameful degree, this could be your answer. Ken Shamrock knows all about fighting and how to "neutralise" the other guy. They are not your ordinary moves being taught in school. All the tactics expounded in this book are meant to "take down" a misguided guy with a bad attitude.

The Life, The Fights, The Techniques
By Ken Shamrock with Erich Krauss
Tuttle Publishing

IF you are a pacifist, or contemplating on entering the seminary, this is one book you should avoid at all costs.
Ken Shamrock is not the kind of man whose life you would want to read about. He was born with a mean streak and had to punch his way through to "see the light".
Considering his early years, it is a wonder that he's not on Death Row or resting eternally beneath a grave with the epitaph "Here lies a man who fought himself and others to death."
Fortunately, Shamrock's life story does not have a tragic ending. He's very much alive and literally kicking. His training centre, aptly called Lion's Den, is today a self-defence-cum-martial arts institution that churns out some of the best fighters in America.
There can only be two results upon completion of reading this coffee-table book. One, physically tensed and two, emotionally brutalised. If you are a yoga or qigong practitioner, you may yet be unaffected by this semi-autobiography accompanied by pictorial chapters of 70 techniques of effectively taking down a mugger or defending
yourself successfully against a bigger and meaner guy.
This book does not leave its reader in a peaceful state of mind. Shamrock started early in life by surviving with his fists. In his tough neighbourhood, the boy who did not know how to defend himself either grew up psychologically scarred or regularly got beaten senseless.
In Shamrock's case, his raw physical energy was backed up by a constantly ncontrollable rage that frequently put many an opponent to flight. A boy who grew up hating almost everybody was bound to learn violence first hand.
This Ultimate Fighting Champion (UFC) and World Wrestling Federation (WWF) fighter earned his spurs during a stint with the Japan-based Universal Wrestling Federation (UWF).
It was in Japan that Shamrock learnt some of his deadliest moves like kickboxing blows and submission holds. For those who are groping in the dark about these terms, they simply mean that if you are caught on the receiving end of these blows or holds, you either admit defeat quickly or you will hear the crunching of your bones (hands, legs or arms).
This book is neither recommended for anybody born with a violent temper nor is it suggested reading for individuals with weak physical constitution. For the latter, the strenuous training can mean an unexpected heart attack. For the former, a long jail term could be just around the corner.
However, Beyond the Lion's Den can also serve as a good reference for some of those intricate moves employed by professional wrestlers to neutralise their opponents in front of an audience of thousands, consisting of screaming, halfinsane individuals.
Not all professional wrestling matches are staged for general entertainment as Shamrock points out. He has a medical record of broken limbs to testify to the authenticity of innumerable matches that became rather violent. Mad Max would have been quite proud of Shamrock's professional career.
Beyond all those graphic and detailed descriptions of breaking bones and getting assaulted to the point of near death, this book also shines a path into Shamrock's character that tells of a boy with a very bad temper who, by the grace of God, has managed to live a fairly stable and happy life now.
That's the redeeming feature of Shamrock's book. Now at 41, he finally tells the world, in a no-holds-barred manner, that he had gleefully beaten a number of people into unconsciousness and he himself had been thumped into oblivion.
This book labelled him as "the world's most dangerous man". Even though commercially, it's good advertisement, few of Shamrock's opponents in the ring or outside would actually dare to refute that statement.
This book of violent beginnings, a brutal career and middle-aged redemption is an interesting read. However, you have to control yourself because it tends to awaken your predatory instincts. If you become too engrossed in some of its chapters, you will need to reach out for a holy book or at least a Chicken Soup book and read a few chapters to neutralise its insidious effects.

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Enjoying outdoor life is everyone's dream but outdoors also offers hidden and sudden dangers. This tome is all about survival and surviving the fury of nature gone wild. Some of the ideas and techniques may yet save your life and others one day. Read, learn and be wiser.

By Garth Hattingh
New Holland Publishers

IMAGINE you are stuck in uncharted territory in the path of a raging
flash flood, and your family members are with you.
If you are unfortunate enough to be in such frightening circumstances,
and wish your knowledge of survival is better than average, then this is
the book for you.
This manual is filled with valuable tips on how to escape unscathed from
extreme survival situations and provides sound advice on the art of
It clues you in on priorities with regards to clothing under different
climatic conditions; sourcing for man-made and natural materials for
shelter; preparing edible food from plants and animals.
If you want to know more about map-reading, navigation and river-
crossing, you can also find such information in abundance in the well-
illustrated chapters under these topics.
This coffee-table book is visually wonderful. The layout is par
The pictures, and there are many, are well-captioned. You won't have any
trouble identifying which survival kit you should take with you, or what
are the items that should be included.
For those gung-ho personalities who think a weekend in some mountain
area, cave, jungle or desert is the fun thing to do, author Garth Hattingh
has some important suggestions.
With more than 30 years' experience in outdoor activities, Hattingh has
been involved in mountain rescues, rock-climbing and group leadership
training. He is also a qualifi ed scuba diver with wide knowledge of the
African continent and the mountain peaks of Europe.
Granted that you may be the indoor type but minor mishaps do happen,
like twisting your ankle while walking down a staircase or falling into an
uncovered manhole in the middle of the night.
How do you avoid such accidents? Guess what - this book tells you how
NOT to get into such situations too.
If you are a KL resident and happen to get stuck in a fl ood that
suddenly appears after a 20-minute downpour, you would give almost
anything to get your car out of that place undamaged.
There are tips for avoiding such a situation too. Like, when you see
impending dark clouds on the horizon, it's always better to head for
higher ground to play it safe.
If nothing else, read this book for fun and general knowledge.
It doesn't hurt to store some survival tips in the back of your head.
There are books that dwell on esoteric subjects that make you wonder if life is more than just earth, wind and fire. This book goes beyond the realm of your ordinary existence. It is not meant for cynics and sceptics. Open your mind to infinite possibilities, as they say in Star Trek. This one's for real, brother!

The Eagle and The Rose
Author: Rosemary Altea
Publisher: Warner Books

AS a person reaches middle age, and the issue of mortality suddenly
takes on an added importance, questions of the hereafter, heaven and hell
occupy one's mind rather often.
Then there are times when the phenomena of apparitions, ghosts of the
dearly departed, inexplicable happenings and other strange goings-on are
brought to our attention, and these are received with more knowing nods
than necessary.
This world is no stranger to people who profess to have gifts and powers
that draw much attention as well as fear.
The Eagle and The Rose falls deep into the category of spirituality and
mystery. It is a true tale of a woman with a gift that has astounded
thousands of ordinary people as well as celebrities.
Rosemary Altea had a difficult childhood because she could not
understand what she "saw". As a child, she witnessed apparitions and had
other kinds of "visions" as well. Afraid that other people might brand her
as crazy, she kept her thoughts and experiences to herself.
For a long time, she thought she was abnormal in a bad way. Then she got
married and had a child. After 14 years of marriage, her husband left her
with a mountain of debts and a 10-year-old daughter.
By then, she was almost a nervous wreck. As fortunes would have it, one
day she came across a spiritual healer by way of a friend's introduction.
That "laying of the hands" encounter shook her to the core. In fact, both
she and the healer convulsed uncontrollably, to the shock of many who were
Soon, she learned that she was a natural-born psychic and not just
"crackers" as she had earlier concluded about herself.
Altea's life is one of the most fascinating accounts of a psychic who
finally embraced her gift in a bid to make some sense of her life and a
personal decision to help others benefit from it.
Her paranormal abilities have brought her to the studio of talk-show
host Larry King, who remarked: "I was truly amazed." On national
television, Altea had brought a personal message to King from his long-
dead mother.
Oprah Winfrey interviewed her too, and TV celebrity Diane Sawyer
described Altea as "the woman everyone is talking about".
Altea's power to "see" beyond this dimension has brought tears and joy
to many of her clients and peace to those on the other side who wanted to
communicate with their loved ones on earth.
The Eagle and The Rose is about Altea's extraordinary continuing journey
on earth with the help of her spiritual guide, an Apache named Grey Eagle.
As is often said in some circles, nothing happens by accident.
When it was time for Altea to meet her spiritual mentor, his presence
can only be described as "electric".
If there was one over-riding purpose of Altea's entire mission in life,
it was to let others know that all of us are really "spiritual beings
having a human experience".
From her counsels with Grey Eagle, Altea learned that "each of us is
born with the light within us, the light that is the light of the soul. If
we choose to recognise and nurture this light, then when we die, we will
go to the light, to be embraced by it.
"If we choose to live in darkness, while on earth or after `death', if
we choose to allow this light to diminish, then we choose a dark place.
But always, it is our choice," she said.
This New York Times bestseller is an immensely fascinating read. It
answers questions which you may have asked many times in your life, and
have received no answers. It opens up vistas of the spiritual realm for
your own exploration, and always leaves it up to you to make up your mind.
If you are a firm believer in existentialism, this book may yet change
your mind. If you hold dear to the credo that life begins on earth and
ends here as well with your death, Grey Eagle may trigger life-altering
thoughts in you.
Before you pooh-pooh all that seems surreal and unreal to you, the late
scientist Albert Einstein once said: "Imagination is more powerful than
knowledge. Knowledge is limited, but imagination encircles the world."
The Eagle and The Rose exceeds the boundaries of knowledge and venture
beyond the dimension of the mind.
If, by chance, you are presently journeying along a passage of life
where deep-thought questions arise with rapidity, then perhaps this book
will act as a torch to light up the path for you.
As if to seek counsel for the world, Rosemary Altea asked Grey Eagle
"what can we do for each other? How do we nurture our world? How do we
bring light into our lives?"
Grey Eagle's answer was: "With gentleness... and only with gentleness."

BRUCE LEE - Words of the Dragon (Interviews, 1958-1973)
Edited by John Little
Tuttle Publishing

OK, I admit it. Bruce Lee is one of my idols. When I was growing up, practically the whole neighbourhood, boys my age, wanted to be a little bit like Bruce. We want to be muscular, cocky and be able to beat anybody who even dared to look in our direction. Of course, all of us fell short of our life's ambition but that didn't stop us from idolising the man who died suddenly at the age of 32. What a man. Here's his story.

SINCE Bruce Lee Siu Loong died on July 20, 1973, there had been an endless stream of books on the founder of Jeet Kune Do. So this book is among the many that explore and expound on the man behind the art of fighting.
Bruce died suddenly at the age of 32 and thus achieved legendary status.
When a martial arts master who was also an actor who had achieved worldwide, meteoric fame passes away under mysterious circumstances, everybody wants to know why.
Hence, the legend that was and still is Bruce continues to live on. This compilation, of articles and interviews from 25 media sources, opens a tiny window into what made the man tick.
It gives a good insight into a boy who was born in San Francisco and at the age of three months was taken back to Hong Kong where he spent the next 18 years.
From an early age, Bruce was thrust into the film world. His father Lee Hoi Chuen was an actor in the Chinese opera. That explains his irregular forays overseas plying his trade.
Bruce's mum is Eurasian (part German). By the time Bruce's child actor career was over in Hong Kong, he had already acted in more than 20 Chinese movies.
Bruce's affinity for martial arts began at an early age because he was always getting into scraps with other neighbourhood children. At first, he was constantly on the receiving end. In short, he was beaten up.
Quickly, he learnt that to survive, he must acquire some knowledge of self-defence. That was when he came across Yip Man, the master of the art of Wing Chun.
Bruce's precocious nature enabled him to pick up martial skills quickier than many of his peers. Naturally, he became cocky and even pugnacious. His opponents quickly found that out in several painful encounters.
By the age of 18, his parents thought it was time to ship Bruce overseas where his future prospects might be brighter, away from undesirable elements, in a land of opportunities.
Thus, young Bruce went West but not before winning the title of Cha Cha champion of Hong Kong. His cha cha talent probably contributed in some small way to his later deadlier moves in the dojo (training centres) of the United States.
Bruce enrolled in the University of Washington, majoring in philosophy. But he dropped out later on to pursue a career which he preferred - martial arts.
His students quickly multiplied and before long, he had established a firm footing in America's growing martial arts arena. Among Bruce's students who later became lifelong friends were Dan Inosanto, Taky Kimura and James Yimm Lee.
Some of his Hollywood students were Steve McQueen, James Coburn and basketball star, Kareem Abdul Jabar. His colleagues in the martial arts who also sparred and learnt from him were Chuck Norris, Robert Wall and Jhoon Rhee. These men were champions in their own fighting arts.
Words of the Dragon is basically Bruce Lee trivia. Things you have always wanted to know about a man who could take a man down with a swift kick to the shin, knee or groin, whichever is nearer. And as James Coburn once said: "Pound for pound, Bruce Lee is the strongest man in the world."
For Bruce Lee fans, this book edited by John Little, no doubt a Bruce Lee fan himself, is a joy to read.
Many of my contemporaries grew up with Bruce Lee when the martial arts master was at his peak. Some of us mistakenly punched sandbags and kicked tree trunks with the hope of achieving some measure of martial arts prowess.
Many calluses and aching limbs later, most if not all of us, returned to saner and less painful pursuits. However, some of Bruce's words continue to ring in our ears.
"Be soft yet not yielding, Be firm yet not hard". I still have those words written somewhere in my journals because I love those words so much.
The other quote which refuses to leave my memory is "Empty your mind, be formless. Shapeless, like water. If you put water into a cup, it becomes the cup. You put water into a bottle and it becomes the bottle. You put it in a teapot it becomes the teapot. Now, water can flow or it can crash. Be water, my friend."
Since then, I have never looked at a cup of water the same way again. Thanks for the words from the Dragon, John Little. Thanks for the memories, Bruce. Rest in peace.

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By Cecelia Ahern

I dislike the term "chick-lit" but that's what some people call novels like this one.
The good news is this book is well written. It has a story that is anchored firmly on the ground of reality.
I enjoyed reading this book but don't let my more macho male friends know about it!! Otherwise, they will kick me out of their Boys Club.

IN THE mid `90s, a particular genre of writing emerged that was later to
be labelled as chick lit. Personally, I find the description offensive. It
casts a shadow of aspersion on what is often good writing by young women.
Where Rainbows End belongs to this category that has become increasingly
popular among young, upward mobile professional women. It has been
suggested that such books are the products of the fecund imagination of
young women working in the publishing industry.
Helen Fieldings' Bridget Jones's Diary, Emma McLaughlin and Nicole
Krause's Nanny Diaries, and Melissa Banks's The Girl's Guide to Hunting
and Fishing are some of the best selling titles.
Cecelia Ahern's major success was her debut novel P.S. I Love You. It
wouldn't have caused such a stir if she had not been the 23-year-old
daughter of Ireland's Prime Minister Bertie Ahern.
The fact that she comes from such an illustrious lineage only adds to
her growing popularity.
Where Rainbow Ends is a refreshingly good read. For someone who has
unconsciously avoided such books most of his life, I now readily admit
that it has opened up yet another vista in the understanding of the
evolving world of literature.
Basically, the story is about two best friends, Rosie and Alex, who met
when they were five and seven respectively. The story of their lives
meanders through and around their lives and those close to them for a
little more than 40 years.
In time, they found out that they love each other but somehow things get
in the way and love loses its bearing. At a crucial moment, half way
through the book, Alex professes his love for Rosie in a letter. It
naturally falls into the wrong hands and does not reach its re-surface in
the presence of its actual recipient until years later.
Cecelia has spun a tale that mirrors some real-life cases. Personally, I
am aware of two such star-crossed lives whose genuine love never ran its
true course.
The subplots of this book are so true to life that one suspects that
Cecelia has either experienced some of them or has heard about them from
her friends, relatives and colleagues.
Being a first timer of a book written by a young woman for young women,
I feel almost a little guilty in learning more than I should about the
heartaches, uncertain ambitions and the excited beatings of a woman's
loving heart.
I dare say it has made me a little more "sensitive", a term which is
often directed by misguided young men at misunderstood young women. At the
risk of being dishonourably booted out of the He-Men's club, I am
suggesting that perhaps it would make for more loving and meaningful
relationships if more laddies take a mental dip into the pool of chick
The story of Rosie Dunne and Alex Stewart, of course, ends on a happy
note. It takes quite a while before Destiny finally relents and lets love
unite them.
The moral of the whole story is simple. When you love someone dearly and
sincerely, don't be afraid to say so. Say it before your knees get wobbly
and you need a walking stick. Listen to your heart, and tell him or her
those three wonderful words and watch the heavens open.
For an Irish lass who also happens to be quite pretty (her picture on
the inside cover), Cecelia has done remarkably well in her first two
novels. I guess a degree in journalism helps in no small way.
Young, professional women already know what this kind of books is all
about, so I won't recommend it to them. I look in the direction of my
peers. I believe that picking up a copy of one of the best sellers which I
have mentioned, at their own time and convenience, as well as discretion,
will go some way in improving their understanding of women.
It may well add some sparkle to their personality. It may even make
their mothers proud when they find out what fine young men their sons have
turned out to be.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

TITLE: The Gurkhas - The Inside Story Of The World's Most Feared Soldiers
Author: John Parker
Publisher: Headline Book Publishing

The Gurkhas are world famous as fearless fighters in battlefields. This is a story of what kind of people they were and are. If you have Gurkhas on your side, it gives your enemies a big fright and for you personally, great comfort.
They are people from the Himalayas. There are none like them anywhere in the world.

IN the last 100 years of modern warfare, the image of one group of soldiers looms mightily ahead and above many others. They are the Gurkhas.
The Gurkhas are natives of Nepal, specifically from the Pahar or Hill Region of Nepal. This hilly area covers 64 per cent of Nepal and it is from here that some of the finest Gurkhas are recruited.
The reputation of the Gurkhas today is firmly entrenched in the battlefields of past wars and conflicts. They have served magnificently under the British flag in the jungles of Malaya, in the Falklands and other lands that have seldom known peace.
John Parker's book on the Gurkhas has cast a floodlight that reveals the ancient roots of a fierce, courageous fighting race of people who believe that it is "better to die rather than to be a coward". Thus, the Gurkhas' motto, "kaphar hunnu bhanda marnu ramro", reflects the spirit of the hill tribesmen who have seized the magination of all the adversaries who have dared to face them, and won the admiration of the world populace who have heard or read about their exploits.
The journey into Gurkha military history can be traced to Gorkha, located 19km north of Kathmandu on the Pokhara road. At this place lies the Gorkha Durbar. It is a palace as well as a fort, considered by many to be the shrine of shrines. It is a monument to the Gurkha and Nepali heritage.
The origins of the Gurkha are found in the House of Gorkha, about 260 years ago. It is where the most famous of all the kings was born - Prithvi Narayan Shah.
The roots of the connection between the British and the Gurkhas began with Prithvi Narayan. He fought the King of Patan in his Gorkha expansion campaign and earned for his people the formidable reputation of being fearless fighters.
And in the mists of time, when much blood was shed by all sides, particularly by those who fought the Gorkhas (later the Gurkhas), the swirling, short and stout knife called kukri gained its fame.
Today when the name kukri is mentioned, it never fails to conjure up images of severed limbs, decapitation and a sudden flash of steel that brings instant death.
John Parker extracted information from more than 40 taped interviews conducted in Britain and Nepal from 1997 to 1999 for this book. He also researched personal diaries, memoirs, correspondence and materials from the archives of the Gurkha Museum in Winchester, England.
This 369-page treasure-trove of facts, tales and stirring information on the Gurkhas is guaranteed to hold the attention of anyone who knows and admires the Gurkhas for their bravery and fighting skills.
The Gurkhas contains anecdotes and documented proof of some of the bravest Gurkhas ever to fight on the battlefields of Southeast Asia and beyond.
For example, Rifleman Ganju Lama, who enlisted into the 7th Gurkhas in 1942, was one of a large number of Gurkhas who received the Victoria Cross for courage beyond the call of duty.
The citation reads that Ganju single-handedly took on three Japanese tanks, firing point blank, and emerged victorious. Ganju ran, crawled and engaged the enemy despite a broken left wrist, a wound in the right hand and another in the leg.
The citation further reads: "In spite of his serious wounds, he then moved and engaged with grenades the tank crews who now attempted to escape. Not until he had killed or wounded them all, did he allow himself to be taken back to Regimental Aid Post to have his wounds dressed."
At the author's last recall, Ganju Lama, Victoria Cross recipient, was still living somewhere in the mountains of Nepal.
The Gurkha reputation is built upon legendary tales of their disinclination to take prisoners, much like the French Foreign Legionnaires. British army officers who have commandeered Gurkhas have told of Gurkhas who wore the look of death on their faces as they charged into enemy ranks, usually striking fear in the hearts of the opposing side.
Those who fought the Gurkhas in World War II, and are lucky to be still alive, have confirmed the harrowing accounts of encountering these legions of death, who came down from the Himalayas to the fight relentlessly and courageously in the valleys of death below.
This book is not to be taken lightly by all men of uniform or by anyone who has an inkling of the kind of danger that fighting men face. The story of the Gurkhas has been told admirably well by Parker.
It is full of excitement. It is filled with tales of the actual events that have shaped a nation and propelled the Gurkhas into the hallowed halls of fighting fame.
Today, the Gurkha legend continues to spread and grow through books like this one. It is a tale often told, though in different ways and by different authors.
But the message is the same: Gurkhas are a formidable force in any battlefield and if you happen to be on the opposing side, God help you.

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MARINE SNIPER - 93 Confirmed Kills
Author: Charles Henderson
Publisher: Berkley Books

This book is a classic. Those who like to read books on war and its related subjects will find this one a "keeper". It is thoroughly enjoyable from page one to the very last.

THE sun was high. A white sedan slowly rolled into sight. A North
Vietnamese Army (NVA) general stepped out of his bunker. Hundreds of yards
away, hidden in the bushes, a man carefully placed a handkerchief-sized
cloth beneath his rifle. It was to ensure that when the bullet came
through the muzzle, the gases from the propulsion would not kick up dust
on the ground to give away his position.
The sniper studied the air density, humidity and the sun's direction.
All these factors affected accuracy. Then the cross-hairs of his rifle
scope rested on the general's left breast. He remembered to keep his aim
high as the heat could affect the velocity of the bullet during its
flight. After a few easy breaths, he then held the last one as he gently
squeezed the trigger. A jolt hit his shoulder. The general shook as his
body hit the ground on his back. His eyes, devoid of life, stared at the
scorching sun.
Gunnery sergeant Carlos Hathcock had just accomplished one of his most
dangerous missions behind enemy lines in a Vietcong-controlled territory
in Vietnam. Hathcock had been stalking his target for four days.
Patience is a prerequisite in the life of a US Marine sniper. A sniper
needs to be as slippery as an eel and as silent as the night if he wants
to enjoy his retirement benefits, and Sergeant Hathcock was the best the
US army had in its ranks in war-torn Vietnam of the `60s.
Charles Henderson's account of Hathcock's career as a marine sniper with
93 confirmed kills is one of the most gripping war stories ever published.
Hollywood has probably taken liberal doses of information and ideas from
the book for two of its movies, Sniper and Sniper 2, both of which starred
Tom Berenger.
In reel life, only so much can be told, but in real life, death has no
favourites. All sides are given equal treatment. Death claims those who
are ill-prepared for the rigours of war.
Carlos Hathcock was a natural-born marksman. In 1965, at the 1,000-yard
National High-Power Rifle Championship, he beat 2,600 other shooters to
claim the trophy. To say that he had an affinity with the rifle was an
Hathcock possessed three essential traits of a great marksman - courage,
confidence and self-discipline. He could move swiftly over great distances
and hit the bull's eye on a small moving target at a thousand yards or
The US sergeant's favourite weapon was the Winchester Model 70 sniper
rifle. That had served him well. Hathcock's unconfirmed kills probably
exceeded the official count. Dead men usually tell no tales.
Long before his tour of duty ended in Vietnam, Hathcock's reputation was
well-established, not only among his peers, but also among the Vietcong.
The Charlies (Vietcong) nicknamed him Long Tra'ng, or White Feather.
Hathcock had his signature mark of a white feather stuck in his hat
wherever he went. At the height of his notoriety, the sniper
extraordinaire had a bounty of US$10,000 on his head, courtesy of the
Some had tried to claim the reward. Obviously, they did not succeed
because Hathcock retired quite happily back in the United States. The
Vietcong feared and hated him. For a number of Hathcock's targets, the
sight of a white feather fluttering in the wind, facing their direction,
was probably their last memory of life on earth.
Out of the hundreds of books that have emerged from the battlegrounds
and padi fields of North and South Vietnam, Marine Sniper has the
distinction of being one of the finest accounts of a marine sniper's life
behind enemy lines.
Charles Henderson has successfully captured the essence of the man
behind the rifle. It was often a lonely existence. It is the kind of life
that unless a man adjusts and adapts to well, death is the only other way
One of the white-knuckled episodes in this adrenaline-pumping book
involves an enemy sniper who stalked Hathcock. It was a battle of minds,
wits, courage, luck and flying bullets.
The climax was when the two snipers came within striking distance of
each other. Hathcock was in the cross-hairs of the Vietcong sniper, when a
glimmer from a flashing surface caught his eye. Instinctively, in one
smooth motion, he swung his rifle around, took aim and fired.
In a situation where the odds were probably a million-to-one, Hathcock
killed his stalker by striking him right through the scope. The bullet
entered through the eye and into the head. On that day, Hathcock had luck
on his side. He had squeezed the trigger a split-second faster than the
other sniper. The Charlies were left to mourn the untimely demise of one
of their best snipers.
The dead Vietcong sniper had a reputation of being part of the jungle
because of his survival diet of rats, bugs, weeds and worms while he
preyed on his victims.
For those who love to read books on war, strategy and espionage, Marine
Sniper is a must-read. Movies like Enemy at the Gates probably copied a
few scenes from this account of Hathcock's life as a sniper.
Henderson has done a tremendous job of telling a great story about an
unusually talented man. There is no glorification of the killings. It was
a job and it was war. The rules were few but the targets were many. As far
as a sniper is concerned, it is always "better them than us".
The legend of Gunnery Sergeant Hathcock lives on today in the Marine
Corps Scout/Sniper Instructor School. Its foundation was built on the
successes of people like Hathcock and his contributions during and after
the Vietnam war.
Reading a book like this tends to make pen-pushers feel like wimps. It's
a guy thing, I guess. Made me feel like going out to the backyard with my
catapult, pick up a pebble, and shoot at a tree trunk.
Cracking The Value code - How Successful Businesses Are Creating Wealth in
the New Economy
By Richard E S Boulton, Barry D Libert and Steve M Samek
Publisher: Harper Business

THERE are aspects of economy that befuddle many of us non-economists. But every book on management or economics have facts and figures that will benefit anyone of us who have the patience to pause and learn.

THIS book begins with the line `based on a three-year, 10,000-company
study...' At journey's end when the last page of the Epilogue is finally
turned over, there's a sense of great relief. It was no fun chewing
This is one `code' book that's hard to crack. It helps if the reader has
the mental stamina to plough through what seems like a vast field of
management jargon. The book's saving grace is found in the numerous true-
case studies of companies which have actually identified and applied the
necessary values. The benefits are seen in their healthy balance sheets.
To achieve an elementary understanding of this book, a five-minute
visual study of the Contents page is compulsory. In particular, scrutinise
the sub-headings under Parts 1, 2 & 3. Part 1 deals with `See What
Matters'; Part 2 covers `Invest in What Matters' and Part 3 touches on
`Manage What Matters'.
The book's objective is clear but its delivery is long and winding.
There is a generous display of bar charts, horizontal and vertical but
their merits and usefulness are held in serious doubt.
However, a one-word write-off of this book would be grossly unfair to
its authors. Half-through the book, there emerged a distinct but not an
altogether unpleasant flavour that calls for closer attention.
In the first section `See What Matters', it is said: `Today's business
world has been transformed by globalisation, breakthrough technologies,
and new levels of competition in which old rules of business are
constantly breached. These are the hallmarks of the New Economy, and they
leave companies with no choice but to develop new business models attuned
to the new reality. Old ways of managing and measuring assets no longer
Managers are asked how can they create greater value for their
companies. The answer is to identify the firm's most important sources of
value and scrutinising intangible assets that fall largely outside the
formal measurement system.
Intangible assets come in the form of employees and customers. Strange
as it may seem, about 85 per cent of 250 executives interviewed revealed
that although they recognised the significance of investment in workers
and clients, less than 35 per cent of them said they acted accordingly.
The middle section `Invest in What Matters' focuses on employees because
people are deemed as human capital. It is said that the `value of employee
assets lies in their skills, knowledge, experience, and attitudes and is
enhanced by an organisation's ability to hire, train, motivate and retain
the best people'.
USAA, a property and casualty insurance group, stands out as a shining
example of a firm that creates value with employees. USAA in its 77-year
history has the enviable record of attaining the best customer service in
its industry. USAA insists that its 22,400 employees are `passionate about
serving people' and new workers have to attend at least 10 weeks of
training sessions.
Some of the aspects discussed at length throughout the book are abstract
to the unknowing mind. Fortunately, there is a glossary.
Richard Boulton, Barry Libert and Steve Samek, the co-authors of this
book are senior partners of Arthur Andersen. Arthur Andersen is an
organisation that focuses on assurance, tax, consulting and corporate
finance. The company employs 77,000 people in 84 countries and has a long
tradition of excellence since 1913.
Putting it all together in the final section of `Manage What Matters',
the three joint authors of Cracking the Value Code suggest that when all
else fails, break all the rules.
They cite the example of Encyclopedia Britannica which, in October 1999,
arrived at the decision to give away the contents of its 32-volume
reference set which was selling at US$1,300 (RM4,940). Its strategy was to
get advertising revenue of US$35 million a year. During the first week
when was launched, the Internet hits on the site totalled
10 million per day.
Whether the reader agrees with what is discussed in the book is not so
important. The importance lies in the fact that most of the principles
mentioned have been applied to varying degrees of success by
organisations, big and small.
The topics covered and the case studies highlighted are thought-
provoking. They may be unpalatable as garden snails to those outside this
field of specialised interest but the formulas for success are well argued
and deserve at least some hours of rational thought and contemplation.
The Alternative City Guide
By Lam Seng Fatt
(Times Books International)

ALMOST everything you want to know about the ancient side of KL but don't know where to start is found in this book. It is a neat little tome that contains some interesting facts about a city that was founded on tin back about 130 years ago. KL has a rich heritage that was and still is a melting pot of the best from the East and West.

IMAGINE riding on the Light Rail Transit from Kelana Jaya to the Central
Market. As the LRT approaches Bangsar, a sweet voice over the PA system
announces "Abdullah Hukum". Like many of your fellow commuters, you
mentally ask, "Who is he?"
If you, like me, have puzzled over the identity of this mysterious man,
wonder no more. Lam Seng Fatt will enlighten you on Abdullah's background.
Lam's Insider's Kuala Lumpur is the product of a lot of homework and
legwork on KL and is a real pleasure to read. It has lots of interesting
bits of information that any KL resident would be thrilled to receive.
For example, Loke Yew Road, near Merdeka Stadium, is named after a man
who came to this part of the world at the tender age of 11. Like all the
other notable greats, he started life almost penniless but ended up owning
tin mines, rubber plantations and properties.
For 20 years in the second half of the 19th Century, Loke Yew ruled over
Kuala Lumpur. He was so rich he even issued his own bank notes. By the
time he died, his fame and fortune had spread to Hong Kong and Singapore.
Kuala Lumpur's history is as rich as the alluvial soil upon which it is
built. Lam, our intrepid journalist, has done a commendable job of
foraging and ferreting out remnants of past events which are significant
and relevant to present-day KLites. Many of us will no doubt find the
insider stories of famous buildings and prominent names rather charming,
perhaps even amusing.
A case in point is Carcosa Seri Negara. The mansion was built in 1898 at
the cost of $67,000. Frank Swettenham, who built it and subsequently lived
there, gave it the name Carcosa, which actually originated from a book of
horror stories called The King in Yellow, by Robert Chambers.
It would be great if Insider's Kuala Lumpur came with zero defects, but
I have a minor grouse to make. There are no photographs of the famous
personalities mentioned - people like Chow Kit, Loke Yew, Abdullah Hukum,
Thamboosamy Pillai, Dr E.A.O. Travers, Choo Kia Peng, Chua Cheng Bok, etc.
Photographs would have allowed for much-needed identification with the
There are pictures of established buildings like the Bangunan Sultan
Abdul Samad and the KL Railway Station, but even these are a trifle too
small. Perhaps Lam should display bigger pictures and add portraits or
photographs of the said personalities in the second edition, regardless of
cost to the publisher.
There is a nice mix of ancient and modern in this book. The Petronas
Twin Towers are given above-average coverage, with details on construction
and what went into them and how they compare with buildings of near
similar height in other parts of the world. The KL Tower gets the same in-
depth treatment.
The origins of Kampung Baru and its humble beginnings will delight many,
to be sure. So will stories about the city's more notorious criminals like
Botak Chin and Bentong Kali.
Overall, Lam Seng Fatt has done a marvellous job. In a bright and breezy
fashion, he has proven rather convincingly that Kuala Lumpur is really
quite a great city with a very rich past.
Voice of Management: The Malaysian Challenge
Published by the Malaysian Institute of Management

If THERE are some things you need to know about management in the Malaysian scene, this book may be the portal you are looking for. Answers sometimes come from the most inconsipicuous sources. Don't say you didn't receive a helping hand.....

THE multitude of management books that occupy numerous shelves of
bookstores mainly come from the West. It is indeed nice for a change to
come across, now and then, a volume that is home-grown.
On this premise, one can keenly observe from closer quarters what works
and what doesn't in the Malaysian context. It is timely that the Malaysian
Institute of Management has painstakingly sieved through its 180
contributions in the Sunday Star's column `MIM Speaks' (1993 to 1999) and
came up with the fortuitous number of 88 articles for this book.
To make it reader-friendly, this collection comprises four
* Management in action: A question of competence;
* Lessons to Learn: Reflections and insights;
* Raising the Standard: Values and the new paradigm; and
* Managing the Future: A macro perspective.
In any book, a sense of honesty is vital. Any perceived subtle shift
from reality can be misconstrued as a denial syndrome. Fortunately, the
Voice of Management is free from this malaise which plagues some tomes.
The 88 articles are culled from the writings of 14 senior management
executives who at one time or another have held very responsible posts in
multinationals or key government agencies.
Any management student should read this book to understand the Malaysian
perspective. Management problems and processes are widely discussed in
other books involving issues which may be peculiar to their countries of
origin; these issues may not be relevant to our country.
This MIM book opens that window which is crucial to a deeper
understanding of management in the Malaysian situation. For example, in a
chapter entitled `Customers Do Come First,' the writer, S. Hadi Abdullah,
says, `When we buy a toaster, TV, VCR, mini-combo and the like, we are
provided with two-pin plugs. Every Malaysian home is fitted with power
points for a three-pin plug which includes the earthing. Why aren't
companies providing customers with three-pin plugs?' Yes, why not, indeed.
This is just one of the many issues that brings the matter closer to our
hearts and minds.
Another subject which Malaysian job-seekers ought to know more about is
the employers' perception of employees who are on a relentless hunt for a
better job. Dr Tarcisius Chin elucidates: `I have interviewed numerous
candidates for jobs and detect an increasing propensity to job-hop over
shorter intervals, sometimes into jobs that are totally incompatible.
There is a danger in this as it does tell a lot about who you are and the
prospect of your own loyalty to your new employer. At best you are treated
with caution and as someone not to be invested upon; at worst you are
treated as a mercenary, used for what you can now do and dropped in times
of economic crisis.'
Then, there is a series of chapters on famous Asian figures like
Konosuke Matsushita and Akio Morita. The stories of these two Japanese men
and how they stamped the label `Made in Japan' all over the world has an
exhilarating effect on the reader.
Matsushita, who started working at the tender age of nine, became the
youngest inspector of his company at the age of 22. When he died at age
94, Matsushita left behind a global concern with sales reaching five
trillion yen.
Likewise, Akio Morita, the founder of Sony Corporation, was gripped by
an obsession for excellence at a very early age. Born into a family which
produced sake for its people, Morita used to sit through `long and boring
board meetings' with his father.
When he was 25, Morita formed a company with Masaru Ibuka called Tokyo
Tsushi Kogyo Kabushiki Kaisha. The firm's name was later shortened to Sony
because it was easier on the tongue. Sony is an amalgam of the Latin word
sonus, for sound, and the English term `sonny boy', which was popular at
the time.
As most people today know, Sony Corporation is synonymous with the
Walkman. By the time Morita died on Oct 3, 1999, at the age of 78, he had
left behind a legacy that Japan as a nation can truly be proud of, for all
the right reasons.
MIM has covered a wide-ranging list of topics which should satisfy any
discerning resident of this country. Even the subject of ISO certification
has been covered - by Lam Hee Thong, a chartered production engineer.
Among the contributors of the articles, special mention should be
accorded to Chin. His thoughts on management issues are clear, insightful
and incisive. Clearly, the Malaysian Institute of Management is in good
hands because Chin is its chief executive officer.
It should be noted that the Voice of Management dwells on a specialised
subject. `Ordinary' people would not find it their cup of tea. For those
who are in the business of management or who aspire to be a manager par
excellence, this book would serve as a useful platform to view matters
crucial to Malaysian management.