31 Jan 2016: Stories and landmarks of Penang and George Town

Our featured books this week are remarkable examples of historical and cultural narratives brought to life through articulate research and sumptuous photographs of famous landmarks and peoples. Their stories are presented in a readable manner that will appeal to a broad audience. The books can be enjoyed from the comfort of your chair or be taken along as guides during an active walking tour.

GT-WHS-1George Town – World Heritage Site (Mark Thompson, Karl Steinberg & Adrian Cheah) is an introduction to the story of the Chinese in 19th century Penang. There are many important histories in this world heritage site, and those of the Malays, Indians, Acehs, Eurasians and British are every bit as interesting. However, since the architecture and traditions of the Chinese are so highly visible in George Town, understanding how they came to exist here, and how they impacted the history of the settlement so fundamentally, is a useful first step in appreciating Penang’s unique culture. By journeying between two of George Town’s most iconic landmarks – the Kuan Yin Temple and the Blue Mansion – and exploring some of the buildings in the streets along the way, the narrative and over 180 photographs will trace the story of Penang’s Chinese, from the time of the first settlers until Penang’s heyday in the early twentieth century.

PG-Hockton-1Penang – An Inside Guideto its Historic Homes, Buildings, Monuments and Parks (Keith Hockton & Howard Tan) offers the first detailed account of the families and individuals, who arrived as settlers, traders, miners, cooks and explorers, and made Penang their home. Along the way they made fortunes in tin, opium, rubber and commerce, created empires and left legacies that became the stuff of legend. This is the story of those skilled opportunists and of the mansions that they built; the architects they employed; and the fortunes that they made and lost. With over 200 photographs detailing their journey, these are the priceless stories of the families that ultimately made Penang.