Books on Taiwan: something for everyone

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libraries

Postby cranky laowai » 01 Apr 2005, 20:04

Shenme Niao wrote:Has there been a discussion of how we expats can use libraries here?

Forumosa.com has several library threads:
libraries in Taipei - please help
Public Library / Privately Owned Book Shop
Taipei Public Library, directions please...
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Postby wix » 04 May 2005, 10:51

A Thousand Moons on a Thousand Rivers
by Hsiao Li-hung (translated by Michelle Wu)
Columbia Unviersity Press, New York, 2000
ISBN: 0231117930

I picked this book up by chance in a second hand bookshop. On reading the synopsis on the back cover I didn't hesitate to buy it. The book is beautifully written and works on many levels. It is a love story, a snapshot of life in a traditional Taiwanese family in the 1970s and finally it is about the spirit of Zen. I recommend this book both as a great piece of literature and for its insights into Taiwanese culture.

I am not sure if the English translation is readily available in Taiwan. However, if you can read Chinese you should have no difficulty finding the original Chinese edition of the book.
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Postby QAM » 14 Jun 2005, 20:52

I have a book here called Books on Taiwan 2005 published by http://www.smcbook.com.tw. It's free and I called them just now and they said you can pick up a copy if you like. There are hundreds of Chinese-language and a few English-language books listed. I am sure I can get a copy for you, or if you have a fax number, I'll fax those pages to you. Just PM me
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Postby maowang » 22 Aug 2005, 05:17

Brown, Melissa J., ed. Negotiating Ethnicities in China and Taiwan. The Regents of the University of California, Berkeley, CA, 1996. ISBN 1-55729-048-2
To understand the nature of identity change and the Han identity this is a great book. Two of the most interesting chapters Surnames and Han Chinese Identity, On Becoming Chinese and Taiwan and the Impossibility of the Chinese, specifically deal with the realities of identity change in Taiwan.

Teng, Emma Jinhuang. Taiwan’s Imagined Geography: Chinese Colonial Travel Writing and Pictures, 1683-1895. Harvard University Press, Cambridge MA, 2004. ISBN 0-674-01451-0
This book acts as a companion to John Shepherd’s Statecraft and Political Economy on the Taiwan Frontier. Teng uses imperial edicts and maps to demonstrate how Taiwan’s temporal location in the Chinese mind has shifted from “beyond the pale” to “sacred territory”. Teng’s research is extremely important in understanding the importance of the imagination in nationalism.

Meskill, Johanna Menzel. A Chinese Pioneer Family: The Lins of Wu-Feng, Taiwan 1729-1895. Princeton University Press, Princeton New Jersey, 1979.
This is one of the basic starting points for the study of anthropology in Taiwan. The book is slightly dated by newer research, but still introduces many insights on Taiwan’s frontier development and the narratives of power relations in Taiwan.

Shepherd, John Robert. Marriage and Mandatory Abortion among the 17th Century Siraya. The American Anthropological Association, Arlington VA, 1995.
This is a tremendous contribution to anthropological studies in Taiwan. John Shepherd makes a very strong case through deductive reasoning for understanding the effects of mandatory abortion in Sirayan society and lays the groundwork for the study of population growth in Qing era Taiwan.
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Postby Mother Theresa » 17 Nov 2005, 22:05

I just finished a great chapter on Taiwan in an interesting book by one of my favorite writers about Asia, Ian Buruma's Bad Elements: Chinese Rebels from Los Angeles to Beijing. The Taiwan chapter is entitled, "Not China" and here are a few excerpts:

Kaohsiung, a port city on the southern tip of Taiwan, is no more or less ugly than most East Asian cities; that is to say, it is for the most part hideous. . .

The "elevator girl" working the lifts in a new Japanese department store in the center of town wore a Japanese uniform of white lace gloves, beret, high heeled shoes, silk stockings, heavy white makeup. . . But where the actual Japanese elevator girl is drilled to be virtually indistinguishable from a mechanical doll. . . everything about the girl in Kaohsiung was slightly out of kilter: her skirt was stained, her hat askew; she lifted one foot to scratch the back of her other leg, twirled a chunky jade ring round and round her little finger, and grinned at me as though to show how ridiculous this prissy japanese charade really was. . .

Annette Lu's office was of gigantic proportions, with an enormous desk at one end. On the wall, above the usual knickknacks of high office, including a large gold clock of truly extraordinary ugliness, hung a huge photograph of the beaming mayor herself [she was mayor of Taoyuan when the author visited her], framed in elaborately worked gold. Like many middle-aged ladies in Taiwan, she wore a great deal of makeup and jewelry. I hoped to break the ice by remarking on the size of the new government buildings. This was met with a look of undisguised disapproval. She tugged, a little impatiently, at the sleeves of her cream-colored jacket and looked at me severely through a pair of gold-rimmed glasses, waiting for me to begin. . .

Then suddenly she drew herself up and said: "Look, I'm a very busy woman, and I have no time for trivia. What is it you want to know?"

My mouth went dry. I realized I had badly misjudged the occasion. The interview had turned into an embarassment. I had no idea what else to ask her. . . A romantic, like Shih Ming-teh, might bask in past heroism and reflect on its meanings, but Annette Lu had no time for such things. After one or more two perfunctory questions, I decided I had better leave, whereupon her face lit up in the radiant smile of her official portrait. She asked me to repeat my name, took up a gold pen, and signed her book for me. . .

During the first presidential campaign in 1996, I had watched a rally in Taipei together with a group of Hong Kong democrats. Lawyers, legislators, and academics, articulate in English and Cantonese, smartly dressed, and mostly rich, they were amused by the rustic manners of the Taiwanese, their gaudy taste, their odd superstitions, their loudness, and their crass sense of style. But there was some discomfort, too, for when it came to politics, these same crass, vulgar, rustic people were clearly way ahead of Hong Kong. . .


Anyway, that's just a brief sample. It's a great book and the chapter on Taiwan is fascinating. While I quoted random parts of the chapter that I liked, it deals mostly with Taiwan's transformation to democracy: 2-28, the Kaohsiung Incident, dissidents who lived in exile in the US for decades, and the election of 1996.
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Postby cranky laowai » 05 Feb 2006, 12:30

Bradley Winterton of the Taipei Times has given a positive review of Forbidden Nation: A History of Taiwan, by Jonathan Manthorpe.

Here are the chapter headings:
  1. Two Shots on Chinhua Road
  2. A Leaf on the Waves
  3. Barbarian Territory
  4. Pirate Haven
  5. The House of Cheng
  6. The Siege of Fort Zeelandia
  7. The Prince who Became a God
  8. Deliverance and Defeat
  9. A State of Constant Rebellion
  10. The Wolves Circle
  11. A Modern Province
  12. The Taiwan Republic
  13. Becoming Japanese
  14. Missionaries and Filibusters
  15. New Beginning, New Betrayal
  16. The Unsinkable Aircraft Carrier
  17. Reform and Terror
  18. Strategic Ambiguity
  19. The Perils of Democracy
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Postby Cola » 19 Feb 2006, 23:18

Mother Theresa wrote:

everything about the girl in Kaohsiung was slightly out of kilter: her skirt was stained, her hat askew; she lifted one foot to scratch the back of her other leg, twirled a chunky jade ring round and round her little finger, and grinned at me as though to show how .......ridiculous...... this prissy Japanese charade really was. . .

.


I liked that quote. Nice.
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Postby maowang » 28 Apr 2006, 16:43

The Maplethorpe book is a great pat on the back for those who oppose unification with China, but Maplethorpe's sources are scarce and heavily reliant on a handful of 19th Century accounts esp. James Davidson. He fails to confront the problems of the historical narrative, or historical perspective. I suggest reading some Hayden White or Paul Cohen's History in Three Parts: Event, Experience and Myth.
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A New Taiwan Book

Postby Ed Lakewood » 08 Nov 2007, 20:26

Don't forget the new Taiwan book (well, the primary focus is on Taiwan) entitled Notes from the Other China - Adventures in Asia, by Troy Parfitt. For a preview of the book, Google the title and look at the top of the page in Book Search Results. Click the link and read away. Of course, if you should be so intriqued as to head over to Amazon.com and buy it, I doubt the author would object.

:)
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Re: Books on Taiwan: something for everyone

Postby Ecaps » 05 Sep 2008, 02:04

I just found this thread and now I'm determined to read any of these titles I can get my hands on!
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