Last May, serendipitous connections via Amazon suggestions took me from reading The Tears of the Rajas: Mutiny, Money and Marriage in India 1805-1905, by Ferdinand Mount, to White Rajah: A Biography of Sir James Brooke, and thereby on to an interest in the history of South East Asia, which I wrote about here, and elsewhere on this blog. I bought a number of books cheaply via Amazon about various countries in the region, including several which covered Sarawak.
It is a fascinating place, and I hope to visit one day in the not too distant future. However, such plans have been delayed as a result of my son Jamie having started work in Ethiopia. Now, I need to read up on that country, as Lindsey and I intend to travel there before Jamie’s contract comes to an end.
In the meantime, I’ll shelve the Sarawak books, apart from the following two, which I’ve recently completed.
In a nutshell: Peter Mooney went to Sarawak in the 1950s where he became Crown Counsel. In these memoirs, he recounts various cases and legal decisions. He writes in a very precise way, as might be expected from a lawyer, and gives various insights into life in Sarawak in those days. In 2010 he was living in Scotland.
In a nutshell: Jensen lived in Sarawak for seven years in the 1960s. He worked with the Iban Dyaks during a period of change. For a couple of hundred years the Iban had lived a traditional life in longhouses, moving to new pastures when the land became exhausted. I won’t say that they lived happily during those times, because there was violence, disease and headhunting. When modern medicine and a ban on headhunting increased the Iban population, more and more pressure was placed on limited resources. Further restrictions were introduced with the advent of forest conservation, and traditional Iban lifestyles had to change. Jensen was well aware of this evolution, and worked with the Iban to demonstrate and introduce alternative methods of survival more suited to the modern world. He writes in some detail about his time with the Iban.