Author Interview: Joyce Bergvelt

By |March 21st, 2018|

Joyce Bergvelt is the author of Lord of Formosa, a historical drama describing the fight for Taiwan in the seventeenth century between the Dutch and the pirate warlord and Ming loyalist Koxinga. Like Koxinga himself, who was born to a Japanese mother and a Chinese father, Bergvelt has lived in […]

Shanghai Lawyer • Norwood F. Allman

By |March 9th, 2018|

Shanghai Lawyer. It’s an uninspiring title and even the author’s name – Norwood F. Allman – has the dullness of an accountant about it. But Allman was very much more than just a lawyer, and his memoir is one of my all-time favourites. For breadth and depth of experience during […]

Publisher Interview: Signal 8 Press

By |March 7th, 2018|

Signal 8 Press is a Hong Kong-based publisher founded in 2010 by American expat Marshall Moore. The name comes from the system used in Hong Kong to describe typhoons; a signal 8 warning is issued for a potentially hazardous typhoon and is greeted with celebration by most residents as it means […]

Hong Kong on the Brink: An American Diplomat Relives 1967’s Darkest Days • Syd Goldsmith

By |March 5th, 2018|

Perhaps I’ve just been unlucky in the books I’ve read, but, heavens above, diplomats are among the very dullest of writers. They have a tendency to self-importance, unnecessary detail, and verbosity, and, although their professional life calls for a certain mastery of language, too often their skill for saying a […]

Ulaanbaatar beyond Water and Grass: A Guide to the Capital of Mongolia • M. A. Aldrich

By |February 28th, 2018|

One of the world’s most distinctive cities, Ulaanbaatar finally has the book it deserves. Although Mongolia and Ulaanbaatar are bywords for remoteness, the city has for centuries been an important regional center, resulting in a fascinating mix of traditional and modern, local and foreign influences.

Aldrich, an American lawyer and writer […]

Author Interview: E.A. Cooper

By |February 4th, 2018|

E. A. Cooper served on Okinawa in the 1960s. His combat duty followed in Vietnam with the Third Marine Division, Third Tank Battalion. After his military service, he attended the University of Georgia, studied broadcast journalism and earned a doctorate in adult education. Cooper served as dean of evening administration with […]

The Real Taiwan and the Dutch: Traveling Notes from the Netherlands Representative • Menno Goedhart and Cheryl Robbins

By |January 25th, 2018|

When I came upon this Dutch-flavored guidebook in Jenny Wilsen’s independent bookstore in Taichung (gone the way of all flesh alas despite my NT$450 purchase) first impressions were decidedly mixed. Beautifully printed and lavishly illustrated, it looked, however, with its multitude of pictures of the author (over fifty of them!) […]

The Formosa Fraud: The story of George Psalmanazar, one of the greatest Charlatans in Literary History • Graham Earnshaw

By |January 24th, 2018|

The subtitle is no exaggeration: the Formosan imposter, who went by the name Psalmanazar, really was one of the greatest charlatans in literary history. As author Graham Earnshaw says, “he not only faked literary works, he faked himself, too.”

Despite Psalmanazar writing a confessional memoir, published posthumously, many of the details […]

Taiwan’s Imagined Geography: Chinese Colonial Writing and Pictures, 1683–1895 • Emma Jinhua Teng

By |January 23rd, 2018|

Although Taiwan’s Imagined Geography is more an academic work than popular non-fiction (no surprise to learn that it began life as a doctoral dissertation) it’s digestible enough for the non-specialist general reader to tackle. Published in 2004 by Harvard University Press, the book is actually one of the best-selling titles […]

Lost Colony: The Untold Story of China’s First Great Victory over the West • Tonio Andrade

By |January 21st, 2018|

I approached Lost Colony with scepticism because of the book’s overreaching subtitle: The Untold Story of China’s First Great Victory over the West. While the story of the battle for Fort Zeelandia in 1661–1662 is little known to those unfamiliar with Chinese or Taiwanese history, it’s hardly untold. Nor can […]