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Singapore: A Biography Hardcover – November 1, 2009

4.5 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"The best book to emerge on the city-state in recent years ... a rich, multifaceted exploration of Singapore's multi-layered evolution and development from early times to the 19th century and beyond." --South China Morning Post

"Well-written and eminently readable ... should find a home on shelves throughout Asia and, one hopes, globally as well." --Asian Review of Books

"A truly absorbing read for anyone. If you know absolutely nothing about Singapore's history, this is probably the only 'Singapore Story' you should read."
--Rachel Leow, History News Network

"Something of a Trojan Horse volume. It masquerades as little more than an interesting collection of stories, while shedding light on the deeper historical roots of modern Singapore." --Ben Bland, Global Asia

"Erudite, accessible ... the prose sparkles with varifocal narratives that flit engagingly from anecdotal minutiae of individual life stories to panoramic analyses of the country's most pivotal moments."
--TIme Out

From the Inside Flap

Singapore was not always the orderly and succesful city-state that it appears to be now. Over the last seven centuries, the island has undergone several changes of identity. In this entertaining and wide-ranging account, drawn from research undertaken in collaboration with the National Museum of Singapore, Mark R. Frost and Yu-Mei Balasingamchow present Singapore's mercurial life-story as experienced by the people who participated in it. Singapore: A Biography brings together a Ming-dynasty travelogue, 19th-century memoirs and correspondence, modern oral histories and even radio and television broadcasts to reconnect a modern audience with the Singapore story.

While famous names from Singapore's past take their place, this new story also introduces a cast of lesser known, though no less compelling, historical personalities - from dissenting poets and radical ideologues, to patriotic factory workers and early feminists. The portrait of Singapore that emerges is dashing, lively and multi-layered, and it offers fresh insight into the ruptures and continuities that have made Singaporeans and their nation what they are today.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 456 pages
  • Publisher: Hong Kong University Press (November 1, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9888028170
  • ISBN-13: 978-9888028177
  • Product Dimensions: 6.9 x 1.8 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.8 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,747,864 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By Miranda Stewart on June 14, 2010
Format: Hardcover
This book is highly engaging and able to be read from the start (as I did) or dipped into for particular stories. Frost and his co-author Yu-Mei Balasingamchow have drawn some fine and lovely detail, especially of individuals of all races creeds and imperial backgrounds. I was moved by the stories of Elizabeth Choy, tortured for her work in the local Chinese resistance in WWII, and of the teenage Indian girl solders; by the feminists working for women's health and education; the individual journeys and ambitions of the early Baba Chinese such as Tan and the dreams and actions of later leaders of political parties such the Communist Party, De Cruz and the Liberty Cabaret and even Lee himself. They tell some dark stories, always at the level of individuals or small groups, but shy away from dwelling on despair.

While the chronology and story from a "beginning" is conventional, this history is quite unconventional in other ways. The authors have negotiated some difficult constraints, historical and contemporary, in presenting this diversity of stories without succumbing to conventional narratives of individual leadership and glory, or of a single path of history. They have succeeded in weaving together these diverse stories to produce a complex fabric of politics. They have sought to reveal to Singaporeans - and the rest of us - the different voices of history, the alternative paths and possibilities and this is their most important contribution. This is perhaps the only way such an "unofficial/ official" history could have been written without glorifying dictatorship or the bureaucratic state. They have done this in such a way that it looks easy.
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Format: Paperback
Vital reading if you want to understand the Singapore story through the lens of various actors starting from the 1400s. Singapore is much more than any man, political party or culture and Frost narrates a delightful tale of how fate and fortune brought us here today. Decide for yourself which story rings true.
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By LeahBTX on January 23, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Amazing book on Singapore! Big Book, good quality, good quality of paper. Good story about Singapore. Used this book to write a paper on Singapore and it was very helpful.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a well researched and well written text. Would recommend it to anyone staying in Singapore to allow you to understand the tiny nation state better
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