Asian Godfathers, by Joe Studwell

Ron at Nude King On The Blog has done a very good review of this book:

Image of Asian Godfathers

Please go there and read his comparison of Studwell and Hemlock.

Just thought I'd repost *here* the comment I made *there*.


I'd mentioned this book a few times and I've been meaning to review it but I thought I'd better finish it first...

I have several problems with Studwells LAYOUT, not the content or the thesis - I haven't got to the conclusion yet anyway. It's just really hard to read due to the enormous section devoted to the notes and the potted biographies. You find yourself having to use three booksmarks to negotiate this layout.

And the large biography section (Cast Of Characters - 42 pages of a 300 page book!) is a nightmare to find your way around. It is divided into two sub-sections: Businessmen/Godfathers and Politicians, then sub- again by country, then arranged alphabetically. Fine, but there is no indication on the page of what sub-sub-section you are in, and what with all those Chinese names, you might as well not bother... Are you in Hong Kong Businessmen or Malaysian Politicans? And of course these classifications are blurred. Where to put Thaskin Shinawatra for example; he's both a Businessman/Godfather and a(n ex-)politician.

Great information, sure, he tells where the bodies are buried, etc... Unfortunately all that information is also buried in the book and this time he doesn't tell us where...

A terrible example of the publishers art. Also the cover stinks like Shenzen pond scum.

Wait for the second edition.

Other than that, no opinion.


OK. Off to the gym. And I'm going back onto a low-carb diet. That should be easy in Thailand next week. Not.

Noodles? No! Rice? No! Beer? ... Beer? ... Bee... I'm thinking!



Posted by: expat@large on Nov 09, 07 | 5:30 pm | Profile


Oh man I should have bought it! I was in a book store in Hong Kong this past weekend and it was prominently featured.

Posted by: Skippy-san on Nov 14, 07 | 11:41 pm

It takes a while to get into the teeth of the Asian Crisis, but there is a good summation of the factors.

Mainly arrogance of the part of people like Mahatir.

A shorter article in Newsweek of Studwells was more pithy (but less detailed obviously) than this tome, and this other book I mentioned a few months ago is also better organised.

Posted by: expat@large on Nov 15, 07 | 10:56 am


Even I found the book, it's format, and jumping around sections a bit clumsy (to say the least).

I think if Studwell had concentrated on a country at a time, or a tycoon at a time, it would have been a better read.

About the cover? It's a bit kinky. Reminded me of Suzie Wong kinda stories. Especially the two girls on either side of the upheld banner-like title.

He could do better. But the book is nonetheless a great read and I definitely recommend it.

Let's discuss the book after you have read it and when you are in Hong Kong (and during our tentative meeting).


Posted by: Ron - Nude King on Nov 15, 07 | 2:25 pm

Ron: re:cover. I would have preferred a much more serious looking cover. Studwell calls Sterling Seagrave's work (Lords of the Rim in partic.) "tabloid", yet he can hardly claim a disinterested academic viewpoint with a cartoon frontspiece.

Great serious stuff scattered around inside for sure, but too hard to negotiate. For me it wasn't a great "read" at all, but a struggle.

I might put an Amazon review up as well if I get time.

Posted by: expat@large on Nov 16, 07 | 12:02 pm


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