This time around at BookXcess, we’re getting together to cover a little local history, and happenings closer to the modern day:
Running Dogs is a full account of the Malayan Emergency (1948 – 1960), and one of the first books published that analyses the insurgency in detail. The title refers to the Chinese-backed guerrillas’ own name for the struggle: a 12-year conflict between Commonwealth forces versus the Malayan Communist Party, in a country still reeling from the aftermath of the Japanese occupation.
Barber’s journalistic writing adds flavour to what might otherwise be a dry record of war. He describes the start of the conflict to Malaysia’s early years of independence, and the last days of the Emergency. Britain’s counter-insurgency methods and strategies are placed on full display, including the compulsory registration, the establishment of New Villages, propaganda attacks and the various roles of military commanders, combatants and non-combatants alike. Nothing and no one is spared. This is a book of ‘the planters and their wives on their remote rubber estates, the policemen, the generals and the soldiers, the Malays, Chinese and Indians of a polyglot country, all fighting an astute, ruthless, and well-organized enemy.’’
War of the Running Dogs was originally published in the 1970s, and it shows in the language and Barber’s attitude toward Malayan natives, but the source material remains relevant today. Comparisons stand to be drawn between how Britain handled the Emergency and how other countries managed their own conflicts fought on foreign ground. Hardcore buffs of local history will greatly enjoy this book, and we recommend it for any budding historian or student.
BEHIND THE BEAUTIFUL FOREVERS by Katherine Boo
Power and money may change a country, but what truly drives it are the people who live within it – both the rich and the poor. Pulitzer Prize winner Katherine Boo’s book focuses on three years’ worth of events in India, seen through the eyes of various residents of Annawadi, a slum at the edge of Mumbai Airport. All live in hope that some of India’s burgeoning prosperity will, eventually, trickle down to them, and each person has their own plans and strategies to seize success, stability and a measure of freedom. But as is all too clear within the stories recorded, the prosperity of a country doesn’t always translate to the prosperity of its people. When a shocking crime rocks their community, economic envy sharpens, and various tensions brutally erupt. What will become of their hopes and dreams?
In this age of global change and inequality, Boo tells the stories of Annawadi with intelligence, dignity and humour. The story moves at a brilliant pace, with a gripping story that not only introduces a cast of varying personalities but makes you care about their ultimate fates. Hailed as great international non-fiction and written as richly as any novel out there, Behind the Beautiful Forevers has won the National Book Award, LA Times Book Prize, and the American Academy of Arts and Letters Award, to name just a few of its accolades so far. If you’re looking for human drama, a glimpse at history in the making and the struggles of India’s common folk, look out for this book on our shelves.
Copies of both these books now await a home on your bookshelves! Get them for the cheapest prices in Malaysia at BookXcess.