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    by Jonathan Chamberlain In 1986, Jonathan Chamberlain and his wife Bernadette had their first child, Stevie, a daughter. Stevie was immediately diagnosed with Down's syndrome. A few months later it became clear that she had a serious heart defect that required a `hole in the heart' operation. Something went wrong during the operation and Stevie suffered a momentary lack of oxygen that left her severely brain-damaged. For the remaining seven and a half years of her life she was blind, epileptic and unable to sit, let alone walk. She was profoundly handicapped. Wordjazz for Stevie is the story of Jonathan's life with Stevie and the deeply beneficial impact she had on his life. It is a story of great love. It is also the story of how this almost overwhelming surge of loving energy led Jonathan to found first the Hong Kong Down Syndrome Association, and then later another charity to take into China the same idea that the key to supporting children like Stevie is to support their parents - and to see the problem as one involving the whole family. The story that Jonathan tells is made even more poignant by the fact that it deals also with his wife's unsuccessful battle with cancer. In the end Jonathan is left to bring up his son Patrick as a single father. This is a short book but intense and deeply moving. "This may be the most moving story you will ever read," said Britain's Sunday Telegraph. Look inside this book Click on the following link to view sample pages from Wordjazz for Stevie. You will need a pdf reader to view this excerpt. Pages 7-35
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    "Diamond Hill was one of the poorest and most backward of villages in Hong Kong at a time when Hong Kong itself was poor and backward. We moved there in 1956 when I was almost 10. I left when I was 19. Those were the formative years of my life. It’s a time that I remember well and cherish.

    This memoir of a native son of a Kowloon-side squatter village – the first book ever on Diamond Hill, in either Chinese or English – presents the early days of a life shaped by a now-extinct community. Penned by a high-achieving Hong Kong professional, Feng Chi-shun’s sharp recollections of his humble upbringing contain warmth, humour, and an abundance of insights into a low-income Hong Kong neighbourhood that no longer exists – but remains close to the hearts of many who lived there.

    Diamond Hill will invite comparisons with Martin Booth's Gweilo. If you enjoyed the latter, you will likely find the former similarly absorbing, because the young Feng was, for many a “gweilo”, the inaccessible yet intriguing face of an altogether edgier Hong Kong.

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    Click on the following link to view sample pages from Diamond Hill. You will need a pdf reader to view this excerpt.

    Thugs and gangsters

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    He tried to bring comedy to Asia, but everyone just laughed at him

    Sam Jam’s whole life had been a tragic mistake. As a humorist in Asia he had repeatedly been sacked, blacklisted and chased out of buildings.

    But he refuses to believe that his audiences of conservative Muslims, Communist officials, religious police and Asian citizens in general have no sense of humor.

    This funny, poignant tale, which the author describes as “a novel for legal reasons”, is more than just laugh-out-loud entertainment. It shines an essential light on what global culture will look like as eastern ways of thinking start to dominate.

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    Click on the link to view sample pages from The Curious Diary of Mr Jam. You will need a pdf reader to view this excerpt. 

    Chapter 1

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    The stand-alone sequel to the international bestseller Eating Smoke

    Former commando Chris Thrall returned from a year in Hong Kong suffering severe psychosis from crystal meth addiction. The medical profession said recovery was unlikely and recommended admitting him to a psychiatric hospital.

    There’s nothing wrong with me!”

    Chris refused all intervention and his life descended into a chaotic cycle of drug use that almost killed him... until salvation came in a surprising form.

    In this long-awaited follow-up to Eating Smoke, Chris tells a harrowing yet refreshing and often hilarious account of addiction and one gutsy journey to recovery.

    "After the harrowing events in Eating Smoke, if you thought Chris Thrall departed Kai Tak bound for a life of cream teas and Little England 'normality'... then you've likely not experienced the depravity and horror of drug addiction. In Forty Nights, Chris continues to confront his demons with his usual engaging honesty, side-splitting Royal Marine humour and storytelling at its finest." – Phil Whelan, RTHK


  • In the depths of the 2003 SARS crisis, Mike Rowse (盧維思), a career Hong Kong civil servant, was handed the poisoned chalice of HarbourFest – intended to be (and which in many ways was) a psychological and commercial shot in the arm. Politics, as it often does, took precedence over sense, and Rowse was scapegoated for the perceived failings of this attempt to pull off a world-class entertainment festival in only three months.

    Rowse endured disciplinary hearings and ended up taking the Hong Kong Government to court. He won.

    This true story of HarbourFest is not just an insider’s account of the workings of the Hong Kong Government; it is also a thoughtful treatise on the drawbacks of the Ministerial Accountability System, a system which failed HarbourFest and Rowse, there being No Minister who ever took responsibility.

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    In 2010, bookish 22-year-old Shannon follows her Eurasian boyfriend to Hong Kong, eager to forge a new love story in his hometown. But when work sends him to London a month later, Shannon embarks on a wide-eyed newcomer's journey through Hong Kong – alone.

    She teaches in a local school as the only foreigner, explores Asia with other young expats and discovers family history in Hong Kong, all while trying to hold on to her thwarted romance. The city enchants her, forcing her to question her plans. Soon, she must make a choice between her new life and the love that first brought her to Asia.

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    Click on the following links to view sample pages from Year of Fire Dragons. You will need a pdf reader to view these excerpts.

    One  Two

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    What do normal people in China look forward to when they get up in the morning? What is the mentor of Lang Lang like? What about the personal friend of Chairman Mao – and how does his granddaughter relate to him after the murderous Cultural Revolution? What do the numerous evangelical Americans really think of the Chinese? How does the One Country, Two Systems paradigm work for Hong Kong?

    For the last 73 years, American Book Award winner Alex Kuo has travelled back-and-forth between America and China. These letters and essays portray the private China, and provide indispensable cultural information for anyone interested in the People’s Republic in the 21st century.

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    Click on these links to read pages from My Private China. You will need a pdf reader to view these excerpts.

    Introduction   Counting   The Re-Taking of Hong Kong

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    China – what’s not to love?

    Join longtime Hong Kong resident and Cantonese fundamentalist Cecilie Gamst Berg as she ploughs through the non-stop surreal-fest that is today’s China, stopping occasionally to ruminate about the travails of trying to make Cantonese a world language, and how the Chinese have invented a new English: Manglish.

    In this book you’ll find answers to everything you wanted to know about China, such as:

    • What does “the slippery are very crafty” really mean?
    • What’s the etiquette for hitch-hiking in really small cars?
    • What’s the best way to gatecrash a Ketamine party?
    • Indeed, what is modern party etiquette in China? And:
    • How do you win a fist-fight with a hotel security guard?

    Travelling by horse, train and sleeper bus from the deserts of Xinjiang, across the mountains of Tibet and Sichuan to the water buffalo fields of Hong Kong, Cecilie shows you how China is not only the most happening place on Earth, but also the most fun.

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    Click on this link to view sample pages from Don't Joke on the Stairs. You will need a pdf reader to view this excerpt.

    Smile Comes Before a Fall

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    Wedged deep in the Himalaya between India and China, the secretive kingdom of Bhutan guards its independence while around it, Sikkim and Tibet have been swallowed by the giants and Nepal is rife with unrest. Bhutan markets itself as the last Shangri-La, but a closer look reveals the turbulence that accompanies its efforts to join the Western world.

    Murray Gunn and his French wife came to love and better understand Bhutan while living there for two years — but risked their marriage in the process. A travel memoir of discovery and change.

    Look inside this book
    Click on this link to view sample pages from Dragon Bones. You will need a pdf reader to view this excerpt.

    11-19

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    What kind of people would you meet if you decided to walk across the world's most populous country?

    The Great Walk of China is a journey into China's heartland, away from its surging coastal cities, where the ripples of prosperity are only just beginning to be felt and many find themselves left behind.

    Through his conversations with the people he meets along the way, the Chinese-speaking Earnshaw paints a portrait of a nation struggling to come to terms with its newfound identity and its place in the world. Our wandering guide never backs away from sensitive and sometimes uncomfortable topics, and captures the essential kindness and generosity of the Chinese people with brilliant clarity.

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    Click on the following link to view sample pages from The Great Walk of China. You will need a pdf reader to view this excerpt.

    Prologue

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    In Great Leaps, Colin Flahive explores China’s rural-urban migration against the backdrop of his own transition from Colorado to southwest China. There, in Yunnan province, he partnered with three friends to open a café that became much more than simply an outpost of Western cuisine in a far-flung corner of the world.

    Over the course of a decade, Salvador’s Coffee House became home to more than fifty young women from mountain villages in the surrounding countryside. Most knew nothing about coffee or Western food, but they moved to the city to work at Salvador’s and earn their independence.

    Great Leaps follows the challenges faced by Colin, his partners and his employees as they leave their old lives behind to make a new home in a foreign land. They encounter unlikely successes, endure heartbreaks and nearly lose everything. But by taking the leap together, they all find their own places in the modern Chinese dream.

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    Click on the following link to read pages from Great Leaps. You will need a pdf reader to view these excerpts.

    Chapter 1: From the Countryside

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    “Kung Fu?” The Big Boss Loves Adventure

    Even four decades after the passing of Asian martial-arts superstar Bruce Lee (1940-73), his achievements still attract adoration from millions of movie fans. The biggest fan of all may be Jon Benn, who befriended the high-kicking hero while playing “the Big Boss”, a villain in Lee’s acclaimed 1972 movie The Way of the Dragon.

    In Remembering Bruce Lee, a tell-tale autobiography, Jon reminisces fondly about his experiences with Lee and a lifetime of other adventures. From facing Lee’s fists of fury to riding in a cowboy posse, from almost starting the Third World War to a nude scene with sex symbol Bo Derek, much has happened to Jon for the sake of appearing in movies.

    But that’s not all. From exploring ancient Mexican temples and falling into a volcano to eavesdropping on communists in Cold War Europe, from doing business with former Philippines dictator Ferdinand Marcos to girls-in-hot-pants waving Passports to Pleasure, one heck of a lot has happened to Jon away from the cameras too.

    Look inside this book
    Click on the link to read pages from Remembering Bruce Lee. You will need a pdf reader to view these excerpts. 

    Contents & Introduction

     

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    Rachel Cartland came to Hong Kong in 1972 as one of just two female expatriates in the Hong Kong Government’s elite administrative grade.

    Before she retired in 2006, her life was shaped by the momentous events that rocked Hong Kong during those action-packed years: corruption and the police mutiny, the growth of the new towns, the currency crisis of 1983, Tiananmen Square, the change of sovereignty and the devastation of SARS. The backdrop to her story ranges from Kowloon’s infamous Walled City to Government House to the rural New Territories.

    Paper Tigress is full of humour and incident and, at the same time, an accessible account of modern Hong Kong and the forces that shaped it.

    "Rachel’s remarkable recollection of an exciting era in Hong Kong not only brings back 40 years of shared memories, but is a fair and often amusing story of how colleagues in the Administrative Service worked together to build up this modern city – and, in the process, injected core values that hopefully will stand Hong Kong in good stead for years to come.” – Shelley Lee Lai-kuen, GBS, OBE, JP, former Permanent Secretary for Home Affairs

    Look inside this book
    Click on the link below to read pages from Paper Tigress. You will need a pdf reader to view these excerpts.

    Early Days in Hong Kong

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    Robert Wang fled the Chinese civil war at the age of five and came to Hong Kong with nothing. The colony was a harsh place in the 1950s and 1960s. But he was determined to rise to the top – and through hard work and resolve, he got there. The law firm he founded grew into the city’s fifth largest.

    With the clock ticking towards the handover of Hong Kong to China, and no one knowing what the end of British rule would bring, Robert hatched an audacious scheme to safeguard the fortunes of Hong Kong’s richest tycoons. He would convince Singapore to take them in.

    At last, he was walking with kings: dealing one-on-one with the most powerful businessmen and politicians of Hong Kong and Southeast Asia. It was an exhilarating experience – but climbing so high has its dangers. After unwittingly offending the wrong power brokers, he was cast aside and left to defend himself against the damnation of corporate rumours.

    Robert’s rags-to-riches story offers a rare look inside the unimaginably wealthy world of Hong Kong’s property tycoons; but also, as he tells the tale of four generations of his family, we learn that it is the traditional values of tolerance, filial piety and loyalty which endure.

    "A riveting read." – Sir Run Run Shaw, Founder, Shaw Prize

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    Click on these links to view sample pages from Walking the Tycoons' Rope. You will need a pdf reader to view these excerpts. 

    One  Two  Three  Four

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    Chris Thrall left the Royal Marines to find his fortune in Hong Kong, but instead found himself homeless and hooked on crystal methamphetamine.

    Soon he began working for the 14K, Hong Kong’s largest crime family, as a doorman in one of their nightclubs in the Wan Chai red-light district.

    Dealing with psychosis, conspiracy and the ‘foreign triad’ – a secretive expat clique which, unbeknown to the world, works hand-in-hand with the Chinese mafia – he had to survive in the world’s most unforgiving city, addicted to the world’s most dangerous drug.

    “A triad-controlled nightclub is not a clever place to work if you’re addicted to a drug with a tendency to induce horrifying paranoia. A lot of bad stuff is going to happen and it’s very easy for an Ice-addled mind to imagine that even worse stuff is also going on. This is at the heart of Thrall’s nightmare and it’s a narrative device that makes Eating Smoke work so well.” – South China Morning Post

    Look inside this book
    Click on this link to view sample pages from Eating Smoke. You will need a pdf reader to view this excerpt.

    Excerpt 1

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    Does a man need a stint in jail to complete his life experiences?

    From Stanley Prison, corporate high-flyer John T. Hung recounts his life in a sweep of Hong Kong history over five generations – from his family roots in the 19th century through World War II to the present.

    The story tracks the richness of his mixed heritage and upbringing, his steady rise and precipitous fall from the pinnacles of corporate Hong Kong to the life-destroying court case and heartbreaking incarceration.

    With wry and subtle humour, Hung describes his colourful yet volatile life, interwoven into the social, commercial, political and sporting tapestry of Hong Kong and South East Asia.

    Master of None is a soulful exploration of human achievements, frailties, resilience in the face of adversity, and above all, the importance of family support in overcoming whatever fate may deal us.

    Look inside this book
    Click on these links to view sample pages from Master of None. You will need a pdf reader to view these excerpts. 

    Chapter 1  Chapter 32

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    Overcoming vertigo — and countless injuries which have left him officially disabled — the 'Human Spider' has scaled nearly 100 skyscrapers worldwide: from the Petronas Towers in Malaysia to Taipei 101, from Chicago's Sears Tower to the Golden Gate Bridge. Reward and punishment have been received in equal measure — the flamboyant Frenchman has gained international fame and raised thousands of dollars for charity, but has also been arrested, beaten and prosecuted.

    Many people ask whether it is madness to undertake such perilous ascents without the use of safety equipment. But in Alain's view, it is madness not to follow your dreams! This is the inspiring story of a man who has conquered fear and exceeded his own limits: the world's greatest urban climber.

    "For Robert, tall buildings are his mountains. He eulogises the views from their summits and (police permitting) revels in the freedom." — The Guardian

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    Click on the links below to view sample pages from With Bare Hands. You will need a pdf reader to view these excerpts.

    Prologue  The Hatchling


  • Japan marched into Hong Kong at the outbreak of the Pacific War on December 8, 1941. On the same day, Graham Heywood was captured by the invading Japanese near the border while carrying out duties for the Royal Observatory. He was held at various places in the New Territories before being transported to the military Prisoner-of-War camp in Sham Shui Po, Kowloon. The Japanese refused to allow Heywood and his colleague Leonard Starbuck to join the civilians at the Stanley internment camp.

    Heywood’s illustrated diary records his three-and-a-half years of internment, telling a story of hardship, adversity, and survival of malnutrition and disease; as well as repeated hopes of liberation and disappointment. As he awaits the end of the war, his reflections upon freedom and imprisonment bring realisations about life and how to live it.

    Accounts of life in the internment camp differed widely. One friend, an enthusiastic biologist, was full of his doings; he had grown champion vegetables, had seen all sort of rare birds (including vultures, after the corpses) and had run a successful yeast brewery. Altogether, he said, it had been a great experience ... a bit too long, perhaps, but not bad fun at all. Another ended up her account by saying ‘Oh, Mr. Heywood, it was hell on earth’. It all depended on their point of view.”

    Heywood’s highly positive attitude to life is food for thought for all of us today, in the midst of increasing consumerism but decreasing spiritual satisfaction. We have enjoyed freedom and an abundance of material wealth in the 70 years since the end of the Pacific War, but we may not always recognise our true good fortune.

    Look inside this book
    Click on the following links to view sample pages from It Won't Be Long Now. You will need a pdf reader to view these excerpts.   Foreword   Chapter 1 - Capture


  • In 1976, Peter Mann left a gloomy England for the last corner of the British empire: Hong Kong.

    As a police inspector, he commanded a sub-unit and led a district vice squad in Kowloon, before joining the colonial government’s Administrative Service and working in the fields of transport, housing, security, environment and tourism. He also served as District Officer, Wan Chai. From raids on gambling dens to organising Governors' visits, his work involved him in all levels of Hong Kong society.

    Mann’s memoir is an anecdotal, historical and racy account of Hong Kong’s last decades as a British colony and the colourful story of a young Englishman in the twilight of empire.

    Hong Kong is one of the most intriguing places in the world and its modern history is endlessly fascinating. This book is a highly readable addition to the canon of memoirs which illuminate the period.” – Rachel Cartland, author of Paper Tigress

    Look inside this book
    Click on the following link to read pages from Sheriff of Wan Chai. You will need a pdf reader to view this excerpt.  Arrival in Hong Kong


  • Michael Kohn, former editor of the Mongol Messenger newspaper, is one steppe ahead of the journalistic posse in this epic Western set in the Far East.

    Kohn’s memoir of his time in Mongolia is an irresistible account of a nation where falcon poachers, cattle rustlers, exiled Buddhist leaders, death-defying child jockeys and political assassins vie for page one. A turf war between lamas, shamans, Mormon elders and ministers provides the spiritual backdrop in this nation which had only just been liberated from Soviet rule. From the reincarnated Bogd Khaan and his press spokesman to vodka-fuelled racing entrepreneurs and political leaders unclear on the concept of freedom of the press, Kohn explores one of Asia’s most fascinating, mysterious and misunderstood lands.

    “Genghis Khan may have stormed across the steppes seven centuries ago but Michael Kohn has probably covered nearly as many miles around one of the world’s most remote and untamed nations.” — Tony Wheeler, founder, Lonely Planet

    Look inside this book
    Click on the following link to read pages from Dateline Mongolia. You will need a pdf reader to view this excerpt.

    Chapter 1 - The Frozen Capital

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    Syd Goldsmith’s first taste of China’s Cultural Revolution is blood on his tongue. It’s 1967. Hong Kong is simmering, plagued by communist-led riots and strikes, crippled transport, punishing water-rationing, takeover threats from Beijing and roadside bombs. And Syd — the only Caucasian Foreign Service Officer at the American Consulate General who speaks Cantonese — is made responsible for reporting and analysis of the Hong Kong government’s ability to survive.

    The CIA station chief and the head of Macau’s gold syndicate play major roles in Syd’s story, along with Newsweeks Sydney Liu and Maynard Parker, and a steady stream of inquiring foreign correspondents and China-watchers. Richard Nixon makes a cameo appearance — to talk football with Syd since the consul general won’t see him — in this riveting memoir of a year when Hong Kong’s “borrowed time” seemed about to expire.

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    Click on the following link to read pages from Hong Kong on the Brink. You will need a pdf reader to view this excerpt.

    Chapters 1 to 3

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    “I can’t visualise us getting out of this, but I want to TRY to believe in a future,” wrote 23-year-old Barbara Anslow (then Redwood) in her diary on 8th December 1941, a few hours after Japan first attacked Hong Kong.

    Barbara's 1941-1945 diaries (with post-war explanations where necessary) are an invaluable source of information on the civilian experience in British Hong Kong during the second world war. The diaries record her thoughts and experiences through the fighting, the surrender, three-and-a-half years of internment, then liberation and adjustment to normal life.

    The diaries have been quoted by leading historians on the subject. Now they are available in print for the first time, making them available to a wider audience.

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    Click on the following link to read pages from Tin Hats and Rice. You will need a pdf reader to view this excerpt.

    Foreword and introduction

  • by G. T. Reels

    Confessions of a Hong Kong Naturalist is a natural history memoir, tracing the journey from novice to expert of an aspiring naturalist, Graham Reels, as he follows a trail of discovery into the miraculously fascinating and diverse world of Hong Kong's wildlife.

    The memoir falls naturally into two parts, the first covering the seven-year period 1988-1995 in which Reels gained the knowledge and experience that qualified him to undertake the Hong Kong Biodiversity Survey in 1995-1998. Early chapters include descriptions of work as a research assistant at Hong Kong University, an M.Phil. study from a hut at Mai Po Marshes Nature Reserve, a survey of Hong Kong's freshwater wetlands, and work at Kadoorie Farm & Botanic Garden. The territory-wide Biodiversity Survey is covered in the second half of the book.

    Throughout the memoir, different animal species that Reels encountered (mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, insects) are named and described, and their ecological or behavioural attributes discussed in a lively and informal manner. Similarly, a range of fascinating human characters whose lives intersected with the author's in his study of Hong Kong's wildlife are introduced and engagingly portrayed.

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    In 1969, at the height of China’s Cultural Revolution, a yacht sails out of Hong Kong and disappears. The world’s press takes up the story of the crew who are presumed lost at sea. But Gill and her friends are very much alive, held captive in a Chinese fishing village by Communist militia. As she faces questioning by the People’s Liberation Army, there’s a lot that Gill would rather not tell – that her crew-mates are British soldiers; her flatmates are Japanese, old adversaries of the Chinese; or that her boss, the doyen of advertising in Hong Kong, is well known for ‘firing Reds’.

    In this spirited memoir, where Mad Men meets Han Suyin’s A Many Splendoured Thing, Gill recreates a Hong Kong of the imagination. Twenty-one, attractive and naïve, wined and dined by Hong Kong’s elite, Gill learns to stand her ground at her job in an advertising agency under the directive of the narcissistic Mrs Church. Her luck changes when Paddy O’Neil-Dunne joins the firm – he is just as eccentric but much more fun. After several visits to a casino in the nearby Portuguese enclave of Macau, Paddy embarks on the longest roulette game ever played and he insists Gill join in. But Gill finds the sparkling waters of Hong Kong’s seascape more seductive than the world of business and money; she takes up sailing and falls in love.

    The backdrop is a gift. The Colony is an anachronism, a last vestige of British colonialism. Yet as Communist ideology gathers pace in neighbouring China, Hong Kong seizes every new opportunity and so does the author. Unexpected twists and a host of funny, bizarre and whimsical events are captured in her lyrical memoir.

    Carefully bundled and tied together with ribbon, Gill’s letters from Hong Kong had remained untouched for nearly fifty years. When she untied them, she remembered her father’s words: “I think there’s a book in there.”

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    Sex, drugs, gambling, ghosts, drinking, rugby, overseas adventures – and even some police work.

    Hong Kong on the edge of empire was a place teeming with triads, smugglers, Chinese immigrants and Vietnamese refugees. Simon’s memoir of his time in the Hong Kong police force – from the 1970s until after the 1997 handover – is a fast-paced tale of his exploits. From the murky back streets of Kowloon to the open seas in the Marine division, his shocking and hilarious tales offer an alternative look back at what life was really like on the Hong Kong beat.