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Charlie Chan: The Untold Story of the Honorable Detective and His Rendezvous with American History Hardcover – Deckle Edge, August 30, 2010
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Top Customer Reviews
Chan was the brainchild of Earl Derr Biggers, who grew up in Ohio and in 1925 wrote _The House Without a Key_, the book in which Charlie Chan first appeared.Read more ›
The downside of the book is it tends to ramble. The author gives background on everything. He tries to put everything in its context. The problem is that I enjoy the Charlie Chan books, but they are not great literature and Biggers is a good but not a great writer. The librarian in Biggers's hometown did not even know who Biggers was. So when Huang gives context for everything, he tends to lose the narrative thread. The net effect of these little side trips to explain everything is that I tended to read faster and faster. I skimmed the last few chapters of the book and I slowed down only when I saw something I liked.
In summary, if you want a book that is a pleasant rambling journey, this is the book. I read somewhere that C. S. Lewis hated going on walks with J. R. R. Tolkien. Lewis wanted to talk and get to the pub somewhat on time. Tolkien stopped constantly to enjoy the foliage, bugs or whatever. If you are a reader like Tolkien is a walker then this is the book for you.
The author includes his own story, thereby illuminating the journey taken by so many immigrants over the course of American history. Above all, I think the message here clearly is: Lighten up, know your history and have some fun while learning it!
As is frequently the case with books published in the U.S., the book jacket seems weird. The picture of Apana is strange and off-putting, while the photo of the Charlie Chan character is interesting but relegated to a lower corner. It reminds me of the terrible design selected for California as part of the commerative series of Quarters: it is not necessary to include every aspect of a State, or a book, in a small spece, because it (the book cover as well as the 25-cent coin) then becomes cramped and messy. Less is better, almost always when working in small spaces. And yes, people DO, in fact, judge a book by its cover while browsing ...
I shouldn't be side-tracked here, though, because I loved the book and, as a character says, it does make me want to go back to Hawaii again, and soon. This book gives us a lot of Hawaiian history, publishing history, Chinese history, etc., and all of it with a smile on our faces "for very wonderful book".
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Full of interesting background concerning the legendary detective who inspired the creation of the Charlie Chan character in books & films.Published 17 days ago by J. Mandeville
A very pleasant read, a great way to relax one's mind....The author makes you appreciate how the lives of Biggers, Chang (the real life Honolulu cop), and Warner Oland (the reel... Read morePublished 29 days ago by Andrew Maile
I listened to the author on NPR, and promptly forgot about him. Then, much later, remembered, and glad I did. Terrific book, bags of fun, and very informative.Published 1 month ago by D. J. Bershaw
Very interesting and informative of late 19th and early 20th century HawaiiPublished 6 months ago by David O.
Fascinating book about a whole host of players surrounding the Chinese detective. The inspiration (Chang Apana), the author (Earl Biggers), the actor (Warner Oland), and the... Read morePublished 7 months ago by Stewart Bushman
Really enjoyed this book. I’m a big fan of the Charlie Chan books (not so much the movies) but there’s a very complicated background of racism, anti-Chinese sentiment, American... Read morePublished 10 months ago by Marla
Written by an Old-World-born-and-raised, Chinese-American professor, this "biography" of a favorite character of New-World fiction is an analysis of why Charlie Chan is NOT an... Read morePublished 13 months ago by T. L. H.