Monday, January 12, 2015

Book Review - The Secret History of the Mongol Queens




In my opinion, the author deserves even more credit for this book than "Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World", simply because historians tend to play down women's contribution to shaping the world in official records. His mere efforts to glue together a chunk of Mongolian history related to women from bits and pieces he uncovered during research deserve commendation. By presenting such important historical facts, he gives readers better insight into Genghis Khan's philosophy about maintaining the correct balance between male and female in the organization of life based on the religion of Mother Earth and the Eternal Blue Sky.

The accounts of life events and political marriages of Genghis Khan's daughters like Alaqai, Al-Altun, Tolai and Tumelun are fascinating, as is the story related to Khutulun (the great great granddaughter of Genghis Khan), the All White Princess who fought like a man alongside her father and who never lost a single wrestling match. Even more gripping is the drama of the gritty circumstances that Queen Manduhai the Wise (a descendant from Genghis Khan's lineage) had to face when she tried to keep a Borijin male heir alive and healthy in order to put him on the throne in a desperate attempt to hold the crumbling Mongol Empire together, and of how she succeeded.

I was amazed to learn in the Epilogue that the Moghul emperor Shah Jahan who built the Taj Mahal was a distant heir of Genghis Khan and Borte, and that the Taj Mahal was designed to resemble a Mongolian "ger" (tent). Another surprise is that the story of the Mongolian princess Khutulun had inspired Francois Petis de la Croix to write a fable with the character "Turandot", which in turn inspired Giacomo Puccini's opera "Turandot" and Friedrich von Schiller's German play "Turandot, Prinzessin von China"!

Weatherford's dramatic narrative makes this book another engrossing read after "Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World".


Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Kindle Version of "Land and the Ruling Class in Hong Kong"


Happy New Year to all readers of my blog! I wish you good health, peace and joy in 2015!

I'm pleased to announce that the publisher of the Second English Edition of "Land and the Ruling Class in Hong Kong" has decided to produce a Kindle Version of the book, which will be made available shortly.

For the Kindly Version status update or purchase order inquiry, kindly contact Simon.Sui@enrichculture.com.

If you are interested in checking out my novel "Fated and Fateless", just click on this link.


Monday, December 22, 2014

Book Review: A Tale of Two Cities




This was my first foray into Charles Dickens' works and I went in with much excitement and perhaps too much by way of expectations. The book took me much longer than expected to finish. Throughout the novel (at least in the first three-quarters), I failed to feel empathy with any of the characters. It was only when I neared the end that I became more absorbed with the plot twists. I would be lying if I said I wasn't deeply moved by the story's ending.

Was it the wordiness of the novel that put me off? Maybe not, because I've read and liked other wordy authors. I think I would blame it on the author's slightly going overboard with sarcasm and sentimentalism in case of this particular novel. As well, his characterization could have gone a little deeper with Sydney Carton. Having said that, I still like his ingenuity in patiently building up suspense to climactic heights near the very end. On balance, I am inclined to give this novel three out of five stars.


Thursday, December 18, 2014

Book Review: Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World




This book gives me a whole new perspective on 13th and 14th century world history. It also helps me understand a little more about the Yuan Dynasty in Chinese history (e.g. I learned that it was probably the outbreak of the bubonic plague that led the Mongolian rulers to become paranoid and begin to alienate and repress the Chinese population whom they believed to have been the source of the horrible pestilence).

I'm really glad that I found this non-fiction title after having read Urgunge Onon's "The Secret History of the Mongols: The Life and Times of Chinggis Khan". The latter is supposedly an English translation from the original text written in Mongolian in the 13th century about Genghis Khan's life by someone close to him, and contains mostly dialogues and descriptive passages. Using that original document as a basis, Weatherford gives a far more coherent and illuminating account of all the life episodes set in historical context, while shedding light on the enormous proximate impact and far-reaching influence that this formidable leader's actions and, to a greater or lesser extent, those of his successors, had on human history.

The simple flowing style of writing makes this book an easy read. It is interesting as it is educational.


Saturday, December 13, 2014

For U.S. Readers, "Fated and Fateless" $0.99 Kindle Sale!





A countdown sale is on from Amazon.com Kindle Store at $0.99 until December 14, 2014 1:00 pm (PST), after which the price will go up to $2.99, again effective for a limited time (53 hours).




This is a novel that paints a culturally vibrant period in colonial Hong Kong. Did you know that in the early to mid-1900s, Hong Kong's Chinese society was very much influenced by the Portuguese, other than the British?

Tony, a leading character in the novel, is a Eurasian from Macau born of a Chinese mother and a Portuguese father, who is the offspring of a well-known historical Macanese figure.

A major character, John Woo the lawyer, is of mixed Chinese and British descent.

Other interesting characters include Jean the French teacher and Jill Simmons, the Eurasian stockbroker, who comes from mixed British, Portuguese and Chinese origin.

Wendy the working girl and Diana the apparent heiress (the two leading female characters), and Edward the doctor (the other leading male character), are Chinese, as are most other major characters (like Mr. Lee the property tycoon and Ms. Yeung the secretary).

Fate throws them onto one another's path and creates distressing chaos in the lives of Wendy and Diana….