• Love, Money and Friendships

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    In 1981, David Wong retired after 20 years as an administrative officer in the Hong Kong Government to chance his arm in the city’s cut-throat free market, as the managing director of a large multinational trading corporation. He soon discovered more legal and ethical boobytraps in business than he had bargained for. Nonetheless, he sidestepped them and in 1982, during the Sino-British negotiations to end British rule, he quickly sensed a unwarranted panic over the value of the Hong Kong dollar. He acted accordingly and made himself millions in weeks.

    Wong then visited different parts of China with friends. In the process he fell in love with a young and beautiful member of the Communist Youth League. When he tried to marry her, however, the mainland bureaucracy threw a host of obstacles in his path. After all, he was perceived as a capitalist from Hong Kong. But Wong’s friends used their collective guanxi with members of the Politburo to gain him permission to marry the girl. The title of this volume is aptly Love, Money and Friendships.

    Interlaced with Wong’s narrative are fascinating insights into aspects of China’s long and colourful history and culture.

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    Introduction

  • LING-NAM: Hong Kong, Canton and Hainan Island in the 1880s

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    By Benjamin Couch 'BC' Henry, introduced and annotated by Paul French
     
    No. 3 in the China Revisited series
     
    Benjamin Couch “BC” Henry was a missionary in Hong Kong and southern China in the second half of the 19th century. He arrived in 1873 and remained until 1894. Yet he was much more too – a keen observer, a skilled naturalist and an intrepid explorer. His fascination with the flora and fauna of Hong Kong and southern China are obvious throughout the pages of LING-NAM.
     
    The bulk of his career in China was spent in what was then commonly known as “Ling-nam”, the Pearl River Delta and environs of Guangzhou. These excerpts of Henry’s travelogue LING-NAM, published in 1886, contain one of the most detailed walking tours of Guangzhou that has survived. Similarly so his travels through the silk, tea and market garden regions adjoining the metropolis. Abd finally, we have Henry’s ground-breaking account of his expeditions around Hainan Island in 1882, then the most extensive undertaken to date by a foreigner. He was also a keen anthropologist interested in the island’s various ethnic groups, such as the Lois, as well as the various languages and dialects of Hainan. Henry’s portrait of southern China was built up over 20 years work and exploration in the region and provides one of the most in-depth looks at southern Chinese life from the growth of Hong Kong, to the bustling streets of Guangzhou, to Hainan’s “Island of Palms”.

    “Drifting slowly by a large collection of flower-boats, gay with lamps and mirrors, and richly furnished with black-wood sofas and embroidered curtains… Dire confusion is often created among the slipper-boats, whose anchorage adjoins, by the surging of the steamer against their outer lines, causing them to jump, and sputter, and dart about like a swarm of ants, shell-like craft, whilst they vociferously hurl maledictions at the great steamer.”

     

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    It Won’t Be Long Now: The Diary of a Hong Kong Prisoner of War

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    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.

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    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

  • Hong Kong on the Brink: An American diplomat relives 1967’s darkest days

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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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    Chapters 1 to 3

  • Hong Kong Confidential: Life as a Subversive

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    A former senior Chinese Administrative Officer has at long last lifted another little corner of the veil of half-truths and anodyne official releases which hitherto shrouded many of the decisions and evasions under the long Hong Kong governorship of Sir Murray MacLehose.

    David T. K. Wong — who started working life as a dishwasher in a Chinese restaurant at the age of 13 before becoming a journalist, teacher, colonial bureaucrat, international businessman, and then a writer of short stories and novels — is clearly a man of many parts. He has now turned his narrative skills to producing a pungent, sardonic, cerebral and revelatory insider memoir of his experiences in the upper reaches of the colonial administration during the 1970s.

    In doing so, he draws attention to the political, cultural and economic cross-currents that have always swirled through the uniquely paradoxical city. As a Chinese, he constantly found himself struggling with a three-horned dilemma: how to serve the people of Hong Kong, who paid his salary; the wider Chinese nation, from which he was culturally and emotionally inseparable; and the demands of the British crown, to which he had publicly sworn his allegiance.

    Hong Kong Confidential is a valuable contribution to the historical mosaic of a dynamic Chinese community living through turbulent times.

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    Chapter 1: Interregnum

  • Hong Kong Beat: True Stories From One of the Last British Police Officers in Colonial Hong Kong

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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.

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    Chapters 1, 2 and 3

  • Great Leaps: Finding home in a changing China

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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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    Chapter 1: From the Countryside

  • Forty Nights (Eating Smoke #2)

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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

  • Eating Smoke: One man’s descent into drug psychosis in Hong Kong’s triad heartland

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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

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    Excerpt 1

  • Drawing on the Inside: Kowloon Walled City 1985

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    Curated by Benjamin Salmon

    Imagine an illegally built mini-city formed of multiple 12-storey blocks, taking up only the area of a sports stadium but home to 60,000 people. What was it like living in the most densely populated place on Earth?

    Intrepid 22-year-old artist Fiona Hawthorne spent three months inside the notorious Walled City of Kowloon, an apparent no-go area right in the heart of bustling Hong Kong. This book reveals the sensitive and extraordinary artworks she created there. It is a unique record of a time and place that no longer exists.

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    Dragon Bones: Two Years Beneath the Skin of a Himalayan Kingdom

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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.

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    11-19

  • Don’t Joke on the Stairs: How I learnt to navigate China by breaking most of the rules

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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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    Smile Comes Before a Fall

  • Diamond Hill: Memories of growing up in a Hong Kong squatter village

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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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    Thugs and gangsters

  • Designing a Life: A Cross-Cultural Journey

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    Designing a Life tells the inspiring story of Kai-Yin Lo, a determined woman born to a wealthy Hong Kong family who had to build her own future following an abrupt change in the family's fortunes. After a first job at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Hong Kong, she made her way to Time Inc. in New York to establish a new life.

    Encouraged by her first collection being accepted by Cartier New York, she employed talent, innovation and determination to become a designer of international renown, respected as an ambassador for cross-cultural exchange in art, design and thought.

    “Kai-Yin is a polymath and a phenomenon, having seamlessly juggled an analytical career as a scholar, historian, teacher and editor, with the artistic and imaginative flair of an amazing jewellery, accessory designer and ceramic artist.” – Thomas Heatherwick, Founder, Heatherwick Studio, London

    “In her role as Visiting Professor of the University of the Arts London, Kai-Yin Lo has done very valuable work as an effective contributor and ambassador, promoting understanding and application of cross-culture.” – Professor Jeremy Till, Head, Central Saint Martins, Pro Vice-Chancellor, University of the Arts London

    “Never ceasing to learn and create, Kai-Yin has proven herself to be an outstanding artistic and intellectual entrepreneur who blends harmoniously the aesthetic and the practical. The Asia Society on both sides of the Pacific has benefited from her generosity of spirit and cultural expressions.” – Ronnie C. Chan, Chairman, Asia Society Hong Kong Center

    “Kai-Yin Lo is a creative tour de force whose jewelry designs re-interpreting Chinese traditional design principles were at the forefront of a reappraisal of traditional Chinese culture. She also seeks to share her interests with others through the philanthropic support of dialogues and talks that foster an understanding of new issues in Asian culture. These have included some of the most important cultural leaders of our time, such as Xu Bing, Tan Dun, and Shen Wei.” – Melissa Chiu, Director, Hirshhorn Museum, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.

  • Dateline Mongolia: An American journalist in nomad’s land

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    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

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    Chapter 1 - The Frozen Capital

  • Confessions of a Hong Kong Naturalist

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    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.

  • China Revisited: a series bundle

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    China Revisited is a series of extracted reprints of mid-nineteenth to early-twentieth century Western impressions of Hong Kong, Macao and China. The series comprises excerpts from travelogues or memoirs written by missionaries, diplomats, military personnel, journalists, tourists and temporary sojourners.

    They came to China from Europe or the United States, some to work or to serve the interests of their country, others out of curiosity. Each excerpt is fully annotated to best provide relevant explications of Hong Kong, Macao and China at the time, to illuminate encounters with historically interesting characters or notable events.

    Save 20% by buying this bundle which includes the following items in the series. Please click on their titles below to read full details.

    1 x Where Strange Gods Call: Harry Hervey's 1920s Hong Kong, Macao and Canton Sojourns

    1 x Wanderings in China: Hong Kong and Canton, Christmas and New Year, 1878/1879

    1 x LING-NAM: Hong Kong, Canton and Hainan Island in the 1880s

    1 x Roving Through Southern China: An American’s Explorations of Hong Kong, Macao and Canton in the early 1920s

  • Along the Southern Boundary: A Marine Police Officer’s Frontline Account of the Vietnamese Boatpeople and their Arrival in Hong Kong

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    With a foreword by Lord Wilson of Tillyorn, Governor of Hong Kong, 1987-1992

    We had no jurisdiction outside of Hong Kong waters. But we could see their vessels sinking in heavy seas. It was life or death, right there. We just went.”

    Former Marine Police officer Les Bird tells of the harrowing sea journey to Hong Kong made by tens of thousands of refugees in the years that followed the end of the Vietnam War. As he patrolled the southern maritime boundary of Hong Kong, he photographed their makeshift boats and later the people-smuggling vessels coming in – including the Sen On, a freighter ship that was abandoned by its crew and ran aground on Lantau Island.

    With this previously unpublished collection of personal photographs, taken by himself and his former police colleagues, he tells the stories of these boatpeople – the young children, the father who just bought a boat to embark on a 1,000-mile journey, and the disillusioned North Vietnamese battle-hardened veterans – all searching for a new life.

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    Introduction

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    All The Way With Ray: My Autobiography

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      "This is the story of my life: my autobiography. It is also the story of the music scene for almost a century in Hong Kong. In the past, I have mainly communicated with fans and listeners through music. This time, however, is different. After years of hard work, I have finally achieved my wish. I am sharing my life story in words and pictures." All The Way With Ray tells the story of a man from humble beginnings who through hard work and dedication rose to become a giant in the music industry. His passion for popular music, especially that of the 1930s through the 1960s, has brought enormous pleasure to millions over the airwaves for more than 50 years. His daily late-night show built almost a cult following among Hong Kong people, here and overseas, especially those of an older generation. More than just a story of one man, All The Way With Ray documents the history of the music scene in Hong Kong from the inception of radio broadcasting in 1929 to the present day. Against the backdrop of the territory's development and vicissitudes of that time, it charts the success of many local celebrities who credit their stardom in Band Sound, cover songs, Cantopop and folk music in no small part to help from 'Uncle Ray'. LOOK INSIDE THIS BOOK Click the following link to read excerpts from the book! Chapter One: The Early Years
  • A Small Band of Men: An Englishman’s Adventures in the Hong Kong Marine Police

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    Published by Earnshaw Books

    Les Bird joined the Hong Kong Marine Police in 1976 during a period of rapid change in one of the British Empire’s few remaining colonies, and witnessed the last years of the hard-working, hard-drinking colonial policemen handing out rough justice in the World of Suzie Wong. He led his men in combat with the growing organized crime in the years leading up to the handover of the colony back to China in 1997 and was one of a handful of senior officers instrumental in dealing with highly sensitive issues including a flood of refugees fleeing Vietnam and the increase in the smuggling of guns, drugs, people, and luxury goods either to or from China.

    Filled with gripping stories spanning 20 years, A Small Band of Men follows Bird and his cohorts including his mentor, “Diamond” Don Bishop, an eccentric officer whose volatile temper, larger-than-life personality, and overbearing presence was a major influence in Bird’s career. These tales provide a fascinating insight into the intersection of cultures that is Hong Kong. Supported by his second-in-command, Joe Poon, Bird gained the trust of his band of men to such an extent that they were willing to follow him into danger, even at the risk of their own lives.

    By the same author:
    Along the Southern Boundary