Thursday, October 20, 2005

P.Ramlee is one of Malaysia's most loved Malay actors. He set the trend of a singing actor back in the fifties. Since then, there had been no one who has been able to match his prowess as a singer as well as an actor who could reach people across racial lines.
P.Ramlee was one of those rare shining lights in the Malay film world. He died at a relatively young age but he lef behind a lifetime of memories. Till today, his songs and films still rule the airwaves and the silverscreen.

P.RAMLEE - The Bright Star
AUTHOR: James Harding and Ahmad Sarji
PUBLISHER: Pelanduk Publications

P. RAMLEE died at the relatively young age of 44 in 1973. In a career that spanned about 25 years, P. Ramlee left behind a cinematic legacy that has no equal in the Malay film industry.
Generations of Malaysians from across the ethnic divide have grown to love him and his evergreen songs.
This book is a rare find because P. Ramlee is a "lagenda" in his community, and there are not many books written in English about Malay film stars.
In the 1950's and 1960's, P. Ramlee was king of the Malayan cinema. His songs were played incessantly over the radio. We all loved the way he sang. Somehow, his melodious vocal chords won over our hearts.
P. Ramlee struck a common chord among the three major races. In several of his movies, Ramlee depicted the mannerisms of the Chinese, who he had come to know so well from his growing years in Penang. For that, the Chinese, in large numbers, adored him.
The Indians also liked him because he often projected himself as a friend who easily crossed the racial divide with ease and joy. Much as a bon vivant would wont to do. Many of his films and songs also had a distinct Hindi flavour.
This book, a collaboration between retired lecturer James Harding and former government chief secretary Ahmad Sarji, is a well-organised treatise on the man born Teuku Zakaria Teuku Nyak Puteh who was later registered in school as Ramlee bin Puteh. This was further modified to P.Ramlee.
It is interesting to note that the men who had great influence over P.Ramlee in his early acting years were well known Indian directors like L.Krishnan, Phani Majumdar, B.N. Rao, S. Ramanathan, K.M. Baskar and B.S.Rajhans. Ramlee's favourite Hollywood actor was Stewart Granger.
But as this book reveals, what separates P. Ramlee from those who came after him
is his songs. The actor crooned his way into the hearts of his generation of admirers. Many of his hit songs, written and sang by him, had lyrics and tunes that would gently jolt listeners to reminisce about the bygone days and a country that held a charm that bound all the different communities as if by magic. Part of that magic, as this book puts it, is P. Ramlee.
Songs like Getaran Jiwa have that special melody that glides quite smoothly across the racial plain and establishes an understanding beyond language.
This tome of many lesser known facts will thrill present-day Ramlee admirers with its charming revelations. The many famous actresses whom P.Ramlee wooed on-screen; the bujang lapok who became his lifelong friends, and those like Jins Shamsudin whom he helped along the way.
P. Ramlee - The Bright Star is also a good reference book. There are 22 pages detailing P. Ramlee's films and songs from 1948 to 1972.
Many who grew up listening to Ramlee's songs and watching some of his 63 films will agree that the actor/singer is a performer nonpareil. His voice still enchants whenever his songs are played over the airwaves. Truly, one song that P. Ramlee sang decades ago can now be aptly applied to him: Di Mana Kan Ku Cari Ganti (Where would I look for a replacement).

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This fish is quite popular among fish rearers in Southeast Asia. It seems that it is able to bring the owner enormous luck, depending on the pattern of its side scales. Whatever the attraction, its popularity has dipped somewhat compared to the time when the Arowana was "red hot" among the fish fanatics. These days, only the discerning and the hardcore are still breeding this species for hobby and for profit.

By Willie Si and Winston Sng
Published by Times Editions - Marshall Cavendish

ABOUT a decade ago, before the Flowerhorn Fish grabbed centre stage,
there was the Arowana.
At the height of its popularity, no businessman worth his millions would
be seen without at least one golden or red, adult-sized Arowana swimming
in an impressive aquarium inside his bungalow.
That was then. These days, even the fame of the Flowerhorn has taken a
dip. But Arowana or Dragon Fish as it is popularly known has continued to
be the exclusive property of those who claimed they know their fish.
The Dragon Fish has other names - namely, the Arawana, arrowana or the
aruana. The fish is native to the rivers of Southeast Asia, Australia,
Africa and South America.
Fossil evidence reveals that the Arowana is a creature that has its
origins em-bedded in prehistoric times. The Asian Arowana is the most
expensive because it is believed to be near extinct.
The life span of an Arowana is about 60 years so, unlike other pets, it
can live as long as you can, perhaps even longer. If it is well looked
after, it is believed that the fish will bring its owner an endless stream
of wealth and good fortune.
Thus, the Arowana was, and still is, an extremely popular fish. There
are several varieties of Arowana - green silver, black, red and golden.
Willie Si and his nephew, Winston Sng, have written this book for
Arowana lovers. Willie's association with the Arowana began in the mid
1980's when his brother Sammi complained about the difficulties of rearing
the Arowana.
Being a mechanic at that time, Willie took upon himself the challenge of
learning more about this fish. So what began as a mission to learn more
about the Arowana quickly developed into a passion and eventually became a
profession for Willie.
In 1991, The Straits Times and The New Paper of Singapore found out
about Willie the "fish doctor" and published two articles about him. It
was then rumoured that a book about Arowanas was also in the pipeline and
would be published in due course. What began as a dream is now a reality.
This book is the culmination of years of experimentation and invaluable
experience culled from rearing the Arowana.
This layman's guide should be read by all those who have developed a
deep interest in the Arowana. It has beautiful colour pictures. Valuable
tips, information and advice on looking after the Arowana abound between
the covers.
The Arowana is not the kind of fish to keep if you have just some spare
change. Like everything else of value, it requires a healthy budget.
Today, the price of a potentially beautiful infant Arowana can exceed
When fully grown, a beautiful Arowana can be priced above RM10,000. It
is a buyer-seller situation. The book informs all Arowana owners or
collectors that the vital points to remember about this fish is to keep it
healthy at all times.
Lighting in the aquarium must be strategically placed, to bring out the
magnificent colours of the fish.
Feeding of the Arowana must follow a strict schedule. Salt content of
the aquarium water should also be monitored closely.
The filtration system must be the right type, otherwise the fish may
become prone to fungus attack.
The rumours that surround the beautiful Arowana only add to its mystique
and popularity.
This guide book has vivid pictures of sick Arowanas. It displays
pictorial evidence of illness like off-coloured scales and gills and
advice on how to overcome these problems.
This book is a source of valuable information to those who want to learn
more about the dragon fish. It does not claim to have the last word on
this much sought-after aquarium fish but it does have lots of good advice
on how to make the hobby of rearing the Arowana a wonderful pastime.

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Tony Buzan is nicknamed Mr Memory. He has been teaching the subject for decades. If you pay attention to his explanations, you may be the next "clever chap" in your office. Now wouldn't that be great?

By Tony Buzan
Thorsons, HarperCollins Publishers

ANY book by mind master Tony Buzan is always a treat. Buzan has written
six other books on mind mapping.
As most of us know, everyone can think but the only catch is not many
think rightly or have right thoughts. Thinking is almost involuntary so
in the process of thought, there are methods of teaching a person to
channel his thought, a form of energy, in the right direction.
When thinking is done right, it gradually forms a network of ideas. And
when this thought process is nurtured correctly, the finished product is
called mind mapping.
Mind mapping guru Tony Buzan has been experimenting with the thought
process since 1964 when he graduated from the University of British
Columbia with double honours in psychology, mathematics and English.
Buzan has given a lot of thought to mental literacy, a phrase that he
coined. His first book Make the Most of Your Mind shot him to fame. He
loves to promote the mnemonic system that was developed more than 300
years ago. It is a system using digits and letters of the alphabets to
store limitless information in the mind.
Hence, The Ultimate Book of Mind Maps can be rightly labelled as an
all-in-one manual for those who want to change their lives, improve their
creativity and gain a super memory.
There are six easy chapters in this book. It begins with the
fundamentals of understanding the human mind. After you have learnt to
take the seven steps to creating a mind map, you will move on to knowing
more about the brain and unleashing its potential.
If it sounds very much like nuclear physics to you right now, then stop
and take a deep breath. By the way, that's good, too. A well-oxygenated
brain functions better and has clearer thoughts.
Buzan is so logical that it is embarrassing for the rest of us mortals.
But three chapters down the line, the fog clears up and the reader begins
to see in his "mind's eye" that there is actually a success formula of
understanding the nature of learning. It is found in TEFCAS. It stands
for Trial, Event, Feedback, Check, Adjust, Success.
Tefcas is an acronym that spells out the basic steps the human brain
takes to define an experience. Metaphorically, it is the flashlight which
the brain uses to light up areas that it knows nothing about. Basically,
it is a learning tool.
The book teaches its reader to link Tefcas and mind mapping to solve
problematic situations in a logical and reasonable manner. For example,
looking at a situation objectively and with the application of
intelligence come up with the most logical solution, allowing for a small
margin of error. It is something which Vulcan Dr Spock of Star Trek would
want to do.
Since intelligent thinking is a precious commodity in many professional
fields these days, this book's information is of immense importance to
those whose promotion relies heavily on their creativity.
First and foremost, the human brain operates "explosively and
radiantly". In other words, we are not like computers that engage in
linear or sequential thinking. The human brain is likened to be the most
powerful computer on earth and it can replace its own cells.
Here are the facts: the human brain has a million neurons or nerve
cells. Each of these cells is more powerful than any standard personal
computer. The number of internal map thoughts that a human brain is
capable of generating is almost incalculable. But if you really want to
know, it's one followed by 10.5 million kilometres of typewritten zeros.
If that is not mind-blowing enough for you, with each passing day, your
brain evolves with the on-going thought process. Thus, your brain today
won't be the same as it will be tomorrow. Every brain cell is constantly
making connections, and on and on it goes until you die.
This is a wonderful book. If you think you are inferior to others in
more ways than one, think again. Buzan shows you how to do mental
workouts to strengthen that "lame brain" of yours. He also teaches you to
achieve physical fitness so that your body will support the mind.
It's amazing that what has wrongly been perceived as a complex matter
has been distilled into simple and easy steps in intelligent thinking.
The human brain is thus a living organism that is capable of infinite
Hence, those documentaries you see on television about extraordinary
people performing amazing feats are merely brain-engineered acts carried
out by the human body. You too can do all those things and more, with
proper training and thinking, of course.
Like most human skills, mind mapping can only produce spectacular
results if you practise, practise and practise. There is hard work
involved but the rewards are mind-boggling. Think about it.

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If you ever wonder whether you can learn to protect yourself to some non-shameful degree, this could be your answer. Ken Shamrock knows all about fighting and how to "neutralise" the other guy. They are not your ordinary moves being taught in school. All the tactics expounded in this book are meant to "take down" a misguided guy with a bad attitude.

The Life, The Fights, The Techniques
By Ken Shamrock with Erich Krauss
Tuttle Publishing

IF you are a pacifist, or contemplating on entering the seminary, this is one book you should avoid at all costs.
Ken Shamrock is not the kind of man whose life you would want to read about. He was born with a mean streak and had to punch his way through to "see the light".
Considering his early years, it is a wonder that he's not on Death Row or resting eternally beneath a grave with the epitaph "Here lies a man who fought himself and others to death."
Fortunately, Shamrock's life story does not have a tragic ending. He's very much alive and literally kicking. His training centre, aptly called Lion's Den, is today a self-defence-cum-martial arts institution that churns out some of the best fighters in America.
There can only be two results upon completion of reading this coffee-table book. One, physically tensed and two, emotionally brutalised. If you are a yoga or qigong practitioner, you may yet be unaffected by this semi-autobiography accompanied by pictorial chapters of 70 techniques of effectively taking down a mugger or defending
yourself successfully against a bigger and meaner guy.
This book does not leave its reader in a peaceful state of mind. Shamrock started early in life by surviving with his fists. In his tough neighbourhood, the boy who did not know how to defend himself either grew up psychologically scarred or regularly got beaten senseless.
In Shamrock's case, his raw physical energy was backed up by a constantly ncontrollable rage that frequently put many an opponent to flight. A boy who grew up hating almost everybody was bound to learn violence first hand.
This Ultimate Fighting Champion (UFC) and World Wrestling Federation (WWF) fighter earned his spurs during a stint with the Japan-based Universal Wrestling Federation (UWF).
It was in Japan that Shamrock learnt some of his deadliest moves like kickboxing blows and submission holds. For those who are groping in the dark about these terms, they simply mean that if you are caught on the receiving end of these blows or holds, you either admit defeat quickly or you will hear the crunching of your bones (hands, legs or arms).
This book is neither recommended for anybody born with a violent temper nor is it suggested reading for individuals with weak physical constitution. For the latter, the strenuous training can mean an unexpected heart attack. For the former, a long jail term could be just around the corner.
However, Beyond the Lion's Den can also serve as a good reference for some of those intricate moves employed by professional wrestlers to neutralise their opponents in front of an audience of thousands, consisting of screaming, halfinsane individuals.
Not all professional wrestling matches are staged for general entertainment as Shamrock points out. He has a medical record of broken limbs to testify to the authenticity of innumerable matches that became rather violent. Mad Max would have been quite proud of Shamrock's professional career.
Beyond all those graphic and detailed descriptions of breaking bones and getting assaulted to the point of near death, this book also shines a path into Shamrock's character that tells of a boy with a very bad temper who, by the grace of God, has managed to live a fairly stable and happy life now.
That's the redeeming feature of Shamrock's book. Now at 41, he finally tells the world, in a no-holds-barred manner, that he had gleefully beaten a number of people into unconsciousness and he himself had been thumped into oblivion.
This book labelled him as "the world's most dangerous man". Even though commercially, it's good advertisement, few of Shamrock's opponents in the ring or outside would actually dare to refute that statement.
This book of violent beginnings, a brutal career and middle-aged redemption is an interesting read. However, you have to control yourself because it tends to awaken your predatory instincts. If you become too engrossed in some of its chapters, you will need to reach out for a holy book or at least a Chicken Soup book and read a few chapters to neutralise its insidious effects.

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Enjoying outdoor life is everyone's dream but outdoors also offers hidden and sudden dangers. This tome is all about survival and surviving the fury of nature gone wild. Some of the ideas and techniques may yet save your life and others one day. Read, learn and be wiser.

By Garth Hattingh
New Holland Publishers

IMAGINE you are stuck in uncharted territory in the path of a raging
flash flood, and your family members are with you.
If you are unfortunate enough to be in such frightening circumstances,
and wish your knowledge of survival is better than average, then this is
the book for you.
This manual is filled with valuable tips on how to escape unscathed from
extreme survival situations and provides sound advice on the art of
It clues you in on priorities with regards to clothing under different
climatic conditions; sourcing for man-made and natural materials for
shelter; preparing edible food from plants and animals.
If you want to know more about map-reading, navigation and river-
crossing, you can also find such information in abundance in the well-
illustrated chapters under these topics.
This coffee-table book is visually wonderful. The layout is par
The pictures, and there are many, are well-captioned. You won't have any
trouble identifying which survival kit you should take with you, or what
are the items that should be included.
For those gung-ho personalities who think a weekend in some mountain
area, cave, jungle or desert is the fun thing to do, author Garth Hattingh
has some important suggestions.
With more than 30 years' experience in outdoor activities, Hattingh has
been involved in mountain rescues, rock-climbing and group leadership
training. He is also a qualifi ed scuba diver with wide knowledge of the
African continent and the mountain peaks of Europe.
Granted that you may be the indoor type but minor mishaps do happen,
like twisting your ankle while walking down a staircase or falling into an
uncovered manhole in the middle of the night.
How do you avoid such accidents? Guess what - this book tells you how
NOT to get into such situations too.
If you are a KL resident and happen to get stuck in a fl ood that
suddenly appears after a 20-minute downpour, you would give almost
anything to get your car out of that place undamaged.
There are tips for avoiding such a situation too. Like, when you see
impending dark clouds on the horizon, it's always better to head for
higher ground to play it safe.
If nothing else, read this book for fun and general knowledge.
It doesn't hurt to store some survival tips in the back of your head.
There are books that dwell on esoteric subjects that make you wonder if life is more than just earth, wind and fire. This book goes beyond the realm of your ordinary existence. It is not meant for cynics and sceptics. Open your mind to infinite possibilities, as they say in Star Trek. This one's for real, brother!

The Eagle and The Rose
Author: Rosemary Altea
Publisher: Warner Books

AS a person reaches middle age, and the issue of mortality suddenly
takes on an added importance, questions of the hereafter, heaven and hell
occupy one's mind rather often.
Then there are times when the phenomena of apparitions, ghosts of the
dearly departed, inexplicable happenings and other strange goings-on are
brought to our attention, and these are received with more knowing nods
than necessary.
This world is no stranger to people who profess to have gifts and powers
that draw much attention as well as fear.
The Eagle and The Rose falls deep into the category of spirituality and
mystery. It is a true tale of a woman with a gift that has astounded
thousands of ordinary people as well as celebrities.
Rosemary Altea had a difficult childhood because she could not
understand what she "saw". As a child, she witnessed apparitions and had
other kinds of "visions" as well. Afraid that other people might brand her
as crazy, she kept her thoughts and experiences to herself.
For a long time, she thought she was abnormal in a bad way. Then she got
married and had a child. After 14 years of marriage, her husband left her
with a mountain of debts and a 10-year-old daughter.
By then, she was almost a nervous wreck. As fortunes would have it, one
day she came across a spiritual healer by way of a friend's introduction.
That "laying of the hands" encounter shook her to the core. In fact, both
she and the healer convulsed uncontrollably, to the shock of many who were
Soon, she learned that she was a natural-born psychic and not just
"crackers" as she had earlier concluded about herself.
Altea's life is one of the most fascinating accounts of a psychic who
finally embraced her gift in a bid to make some sense of her life and a
personal decision to help others benefit from it.
Her paranormal abilities have brought her to the studio of talk-show
host Larry King, who remarked: "I was truly amazed." On national
television, Altea had brought a personal message to King from his long-
dead mother.
Oprah Winfrey interviewed her too, and TV celebrity Diane Sawyer
described Altea as "the woman everyone is talking about".
Altea's power to "see" beyond this dimension has brought tears and joy
to many of her clients and peace to those on the other side who wanted to
communicate with their loved ones on earth.
The Eagle and The Rose is about Altea's extraordinary continuing journey
on earth with the help of her spiritual guide, an Apache named Grey Eagle.
As is often said in some circles, nothing happens by accident.
When it was time for Altea to meet her spiritual mentor, his presence
can only be described as "electric".
If there was one over-riding purpose of Altea's entire mission in life,
it was to let others know that all of us are really "spiritual beings
having a human experience".
From her counsels with Grey Eagle, Altea learned that "each of us is
born with the light within us, the light that is the light of the soul. If
we choose to recognise and nurture this light, then when we die, we will
go to the light, to be embraced by it.
"If we choose to live in darkness, while on earth or after `death', if
we choose to allow this light to diminish, then we choose a dark place.
But always, it is our choice," she said.
This New York Times bestseller is an immensely fascinating read. It
answers questions which you may have asked many times in your life, and
have received no answers. It opens up vistas of the spiritual realm for
your own exploration, and always leaves it up to you to make up your mind.
If you are a firm believer in existentialism, this book may yet change
your mind. If you hold dear to the credo that life begins on earth and
ends here as well with your death, Grey Eagle may trigger life-altering
thoughts in you.
Before you pooh-pooh all that seems surreal and unreal to you, the late
scientist Albert Einstein once said: "Imagination is more powerful than
knowledge. Knowledge is limited, but imagination encircles the world."
The Eagle and The Rose exceeds the boundaries of knowledge and venture
beyond the dimension of the mind.
If, by chance, you are presently journeying along a passage of life
where deep-thought questions arise with rapidity, then perhaps this book
will act as a torch to light up the path for you.
As if to seek counsel for the world, Rosemary Altea asked Grey Eagle
"what can we do for each other? How do we nurture our world? How do we
bring light into our lives?"
Grey Eagle's answer was: "With gentleness... and only with gentleness."

BRUCE LEE - Words of the Dragon (Interviews, 1958-1973)
Edited by John Little
Tuttle Publishing

OK, I admit it. Bruce Lee is one of my idols. When I was growing up, practically the whole neighbourhood, boys my age, wanted to be a little bit like Bruce. We want to be muscular, cocky and be able to beat anybody who even dared to look in our direction. Of course, all of us fell short of our life's ambition but that didn't stop us from idolising the man who died suddenly at the age of 32. What a man. Here's his story.

SINCE Bruce Lee Siu Loong died on July 20, 1973, there had been an endless stream of books on the founder of Jeet Kune Do. So this book is among the many that explore and expound on the man behind the art of fighting.
Bruce died suddenly at the age of 32 and thus achieved legendary status.
When a martial arts master who was also an actor who had achieved worldwide, meteoric fame passes away under mysterious circumstances, everybody wants to know why.
Hence, the legend that was and still is Bruce continues to live on. This compilation, of articles and interviews from 25 media sources, opens a tiny window into what made the man tick.
It gives a good insight into a boy who was born in San Francisco and at the age of three months was taken back to Hong Kong where he spent the next 18 years.
From an early age, Bruce was thrust into the film world. His father Lee Hoi Chuen was an actor in the Chinese opera. That explains his irregular forays overseas plying his trade.
Bruce's mum is Eurasian (part German). By the time Bruce's child actor career was over in Hong Kong, he had already acted in more than 20 Chinese movies.
Bruce's affinity for martial arts began at an early age because he was always getting into scraps with other neighbourhood children. At first, he was constantly on the receiving end. In short, he was beaten up.
Quickly, he learnt that to survive, he must acquire some knowledge of self-defence. That was when he came across Yip Man, the master of the art of Wing Chun.
Bruce's precocious nature enabled him to pick up martial skills quickier than many of his peers. Naturally, he became cocky and even pugnacious. His opponents quickly found that out in several painful encounters.
By the age of 18, his parents thought it was time to ship Bruce overseas where his future prospects might be brighter, away from undesirable elements, in a land of opportunities.
Thus, young Bruce went West but not before winning the title of Cha Cha champion of Hong Kong. His cha cha talent probably contributed in some small way to his later deadlier moves in the dojo (training centres) of the United States.
Bruce enrolled in the University of Washington, majoring in philosophy. But he dropped out later on to pursue a career which he preferred - martial arts.
His students quickly multiplied and before long, he had established a firm footing in America's growing martial arts arena. Among Bruce's students who later became lifelong friends were Dan Inosanto, Taky Kimura and James Yimm Lee.
Some of his Hollywood students were Steve McQueen, James Coburn and basketball star, Kareem Abdul Jabar. His colleagues in the martial arts who also sparred and learnt from him were Chuck Norris, Robert Wall and Jhoon Rhee. These men were champions in their own fighting arts.
Words of the Dragon is basically Bruce Lee trivia. Things you have always wanted to know about a man who could take a man down with a swift kick to the shin, knee or groin, whichever is nearer. And as James Coburn once said: "Pound for pound, Bruce Lee is the strongest man in the world."
For Bruce Lee fans, this book edited by John Little, no doubt a Bruce Lee fan himself, is a joy to read.
Many of my contemporaries grew up with Bruce Lee when the martial arts master was at his peak. Some of us mistakenly punched sandbags and kicked tree trunks with the hope of achieving some measure of martial arts prowess.
Many calluses and aching limbs later, most if not all of us, returned to saner and less painful pursuits. However, some of Bruce's words continue to ring in our ears.
"Be soft yet not yielding, Be firm yet not hard". I still have those words written somewhere in my journals because I love those words so much.
The other quote which refuses to leave my memory is "Empty your mind, be formless. Shapeless, like water. If you put water into a cup, it becomes the cup. You put water into a bottle and it becomes the bottle. You put it in a teapot it becomes the teapot. Now, water can flow or it can crash. Be water, my friend."
Since then, I have never looked at a cup of water the same way again. Thanks for the words from the Dragon, John Little. Thanks for the memories, Bruce. Rest in peace.

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By Cecelia Ahern

I dislike the term "chick-lit" but that's what some people call novels like this one.
The good news is this book is well written. It has a story that is anchored firmly on the ground of reality.
I enjoyed reading this book but don't let my more macho male friends know about it!! Otherwise, they will kick me out of their Boys Club.

IN THE mid `90s, a particular genre of writing emerged that was later to
be labelled as chick lit. Personally, I find the description offensive. It
casts a shadow of aspersion on what is often good writing by young women.
Where Rainbows End belongs to this category that has become increasingly
popular among young, upward mobile professional women. It has been
suggested that such books are the products of the fecund imagination of
young women working in the publishing industry.
Helen Fieldings' Bridget Jones's Diary, Emma McLaughlin and Nicole
Krause's Nanny Diaries, and Melissa Banks's The Girl's Guide to Hunting
and Fishing are some of the best selling titles.
Cecelia Ahern's major success was her debut novel P.S. I Love You. It
wouldn't have caused such a stir if she had not been the 23-year-old
daughter of Ireland's Prime Minister Bertie Ahern.
The fact that she comes from such an illustrious lineage only adds to
her growing popularity.
Where Rainbow Ends is a refreshingly good read. For someone who has
unconsciously avoided such books most of his life, I now readily admit
that it has opened up yet another vista in the understanding of the
evolving world of literature.
Basically, the story is about two best friends, Rosie and Alex, who met
when they were five and seven respectively. The story of their lives
meanders through and around their lives and those close to them for a
little more than 40 years.
In time, they found out that they love each other but somehow things get
in the way and love loses its bearing. At a crucial moment, half way
through the book, Alex professes his love for Rosie in a letter. It
naturally falls into the wrong hands and does not reach its re-surface in
the presence of its actual recipient until years later.
Cecelia has spun a tale that mirrors some real-life cases. Personally, I
am aware of two such star-crossed lives whose genuine love never ran its
true course.
The subplots of this book are so true to life that one suspects that
Cecelia has either experienced some of them or has heard about them from
her friends, relatives and colleagues.
Being a first timer of a book written by a young woman for young women,
I feel almost a little guilty in learning more than I should about the
heartaches, uncertain ambitions and the excited beatings of a woman's
loving heart.
I dare say it has made me a little more "sensitive", a term which is
often directed by misguided young men at misunderstood young women. At the
risk of being dishonourably booted out of the He-Men's club, I am
suggesting that perhaps it would make for more loving and meaningful
relationships if more laddies take a mental dip into the pool of chick
The story of Rosie Dunne and Alex Stewart, of course, ends on a happy
note. It takes quite a while before Destiny finally relents and lets love
unite them.
The moral of the whole story is simple. When you love someone dearly and
sincerely, don't be afraid to say so. Say it before your knees get wobbly
and you need a walking stick. Listen to your heart, and tell him or her
those three wonderful words and watch the heavens open.
For an Irish lass who also happens to be quite pretty (her picture on
the inside cover), Cecelia has done remarkably well in her first two
novels. I guess a degree in journalism helps in no small way.
Young, professional women already know what this kind of books is all
about, so I won't recommend it to them. I look in the direction of my
peers. I believe that picking up a copy of one of the best sellers which I
have mentioned, at their own time and convenience, as well as discretion,
will go some way in improving their understanding of women.
It may well add some sparkle to their personality. It may even make
their mothers proud when they find out what fine young men their sons have
turned out to be.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

TITLE: The Gurkhas - The Inside Story Of The World's Most Feared Soldiers
Author: John Parker
Publisher: Headline Book Publishing

The Gurkhas are world famous as fearless fighters in battlefields. This is a story of what kind of people they were and are. If you have Gurkhas on your side, it gives your enemies a big fright and for you personally, great comfort.
They are people from the Himalayas. There are none like them anywhere in the world.

IN the last 100 years of modern warfare, the image of one group of soldiers looms mightily ahead and above many others. They are the Gurkhas.
The Gurkhas are natives of Nepal, specifically from the Pahar or Hill Region of Nepal. This hilly area covers 64 per cent of Nepal and it is from here that some of the finest Gurkhas are recruited.
The reputation of the Gurkhas today is firmly entrenched in the battlefields of past wars and conflicts. They have served magnificently under the British flag in the jungles of Malaya, in the Falklands and other lands that have seldom known peace.
John Parker's book on the Gurkhas has cast a floodlight that reveals the ancient roots of a fierce, courageous fighting race of people who believe that it is "better to die rather than to be a coward". Thus, the Gurkhas' motto, "kaphar hunnu bhanda marnu ramro", reflects the spirit of the hill tribesmen who have seized the magination of all the adversaries who have dared to face them, and won the admiration of the world populace who have heard or read about their exploits.
The journey into Gurkha military history can be traced to Gorkha, located 19km north of Kathmandu on the Pokhara road. At this place lies the Gorkha Durbar. It is a palace as well as a fort, considered by many to be the shrine of shrines. It is a monument to the Gurkha and Nepali heritage.
The origins of the Gurkha are found in the House of Gorkha, about 260 years ago. It is where the most famous of all the kings was born - Prithvi Narayan Shah.
The roots of the connection between the British and the Gurkhas began with Prithvi Narayan. He fought the King of Patan in his Gorkha expansion campaign and earned for his people the formidable reputation of being fearless fighters.
And in the mists of time, when much blood was shed by all sides, particularly by those who fought the Gorkhas (later the Gurkhas), the swirling, short and stout knife called kukri gained its fame.
Today when the name kukri is mentioned, it never fails to conjure up images of severed limbs, decapitation and a sudden flash of steel that brings instant death.
John Parker extracted information from more than 40 taped interviews conducted in Britain and Nepal from 1997 to 1999 for this book. He also researched personal diaries, memoirs, correspondence and materials from the archives of the Gurkha Museum in Winchester, England.
This 369-page treasure-trove of facts, tales and stirring information on the Gurkhas is guaranteed to hold the attention of anyone who knows and admires the Gurkhas for their bravery and fighting skills.
The Gurkhas contains anecdotes and documented proof of some of the bravest Gurkhas ever to fight on the battlefields of Southeast Asia and beyond.
For example, Rifleman Ganju Lama, who enlisted into the 7th Gurkhas in 1942, was one of a large number of Gurkhas who received the Victoria Cross for courage beyond the call of duty.
The citation reads that Ganju single-handedly took on three Japanese tanks, firing point blank, and emerged victorious. Ganju ran, crawled and engaged the enemy despite a broken left wrist, a wound in the right hand and another in the leg.
The citation further reads: "In spite of his serious wounds, he then moved and engaged with grenades the tank crews who now attempted to escape. Not until he had killed or wounded them all, did he allow himself to be taken back to Regimental Aid Post to have his wounds dressed."
At the author's last recall, Ganju Lama, Victoria Cross recipient, was still living somewhere in the mountains of Nepal.
The Gurkha reputation is built upon legendary tales of their disinclination to take prisoners, much like the French Foreign Legionnaires. British army officers who have commandeered Gurkhas have told of Gurkhas who wore the look of death on their faces as they charged into enemy ranks, usually striking fear in the hearts of the opposing side.
Those who fought the Gurkhas in World War II, and are lucky to be still alive, have confirmed the harrowing accounts of encountering these legions of death, who came down from the Himalayas to the fight relentlessly and courageously in the valleys of death below.
This book is not to be taken lightly by all men of uniform or by anyone who has an inkling of the kind of danger that fighting men face. The story of the Gurkhas has been told admirably well by Parker.
It is full of excitement. It is filled with tales of the actual events that have shaped a nation and propelled the Gurkhas into the hallowed halls of fighting fame.
Today, the Gurkha legend continues to spread and grow through books like this one. It is a tale often told, though in different ways and by different authors.
But the message is the same: Gurkhas are a formidable force in any battlefield and if you happen to be on the opposing side, God help you.

Get Chitika eMiniMalls

Now See This

MARINE SNIPER - 93 Confirmed Kills
Author: Charles Henderson
Publisher: Berkley Books

This book is a classic. Those who like to read books on war and its related subjects will find this one a "keeper". It is thoroughly enjoyable from page one to the very last.

THE sun was high. A white sedan slowly rolled into sight. A North
Vietnamese Army (NVA) general stepped out of his bunker. Hundreds of yards
away, hidden in the bushes, a man carefully placed a handkerchief-sized
cloth beneath his rifle. It was to ensure that when the bullet came
through the muzzle, the gases from the propulsion would not kick up dust
on the ground to give away his position.
The sniper studied the air density, humidity and the sun's direction.
All these factors affected accuracy. Then the cross-hairs of his rifle
scope rested on the general's left breast. He remembered to keep his aim
high as the heat could affect the velocity of the bullet during its
flight. After a few easy breaths, he then held the last one as he gently
squeezed the trigger. A jolt hit his shoulder. The general shook as his
body hit the ground on his back. His eyes, devoid of life, stared at the
scorching sun.
Gunnery sergeant Carlos Hathcock had just accomplished one of his most
dangerous missions behind enemy lines in a Vietcong-controlled territory
in Vietnam. Hathcock had been stalking his target for four days.
Patience is a prerequisite in the life of a US Marine sniper. A sniper
needs to be as slippery as an eel and as silent as the night if he wants
to enjoy his retirement benefits, and Sergeant Hathcock was the best the
US army had in its ranks in war-torn Vietnam of the `60s.
Charles Henderson's account of Hathcock's career as a marine sniper with
93 confirmed kills is one of the most gripping war stories ever published.
Hollywood has probably taken liberal doses of information and ideas from
the book for two of its movies, Sniper and Sniper 2, both of which starred
Tom Berenger.
In reel life, only so much can be told, but in real life, death has no
favourites. All sides are given equal treatment. Death claims those who
are ill-prepared for the rigours of war.
Carlos Hathcock was a natural-born marksman. In 1965, at the 1,000-yard
National High-Power Rifle Championship, he beat 2,600 other shooters to
claim the trophy. To say that he had an affinity with the rifle was an
Hathcock possessed three essential traits of a great marksman - courage,
confidence and self-discipline. He could move swiftly over great distances
and hit the bull's eye on a small moving target at a thousand yards or
The US sergeant's favourite weapon was the Winchester Model 70 sniper
rifle. That had served him well. Hathcock's unconfirmed kills probably
exceeded the official count. Dead men usually tell no tales.
Long before his tour of duty ended in Vietnam, Hathcock's reputation was
well-established, not only among his peers, but also among the Vietcong.
The Charlies (Vietcong) nicknamed him Long Tra'ng, or White Feather.
Hathcock had his signature mark of a white feather stuck in his hat
wherever he went. At the height of his notoriety, the sniper
extraordinaire had a bounty of US$10,000 on his head, courtesy of the
Some had tried to claim the reward. Obviously, they did not succeed
because Hathcock retired quite happily back in the United States. The
Vietcong feared and hated him. For a number of Hathcock's targets, the
sight of a white feather fluttering in the wind, facing their direction,
was probably their last memory of life on earth.
Out of the hundreds of books that have emerged from the battlegrounds
and padi fields of North and South Vietnam, Marine Sniper has the
distinction of being one of the finest accounts of a marine sniper's life
behind enemy lines.
Charles Henderson has successfully captured the essence of the man
behind the rifle. It was often a lonely existence. It is the kind of life
that unless a man adjusts and adapts to well, death is the only other way
One of the white-knuckled episodes in this adrenaline-pumping book
involves an enemy sniper who stalked Hathcock. It was a battle of minds,
wits, courage, luck and flying bullets.
The climax was when the two snipers came within striking distance of
each other. Hathcock was in the cross-hairs of the Vietcong sniper, when a
glimmer from a flashing surface caught his eye. Instinctively, in one
smooth motion, he swung his rifle around, took aim and fired.
In a situation where the odds were probably a million-to-one, Hathcock
killed his stalker by striking him right through the scope. The bullet
entered through the eye and into the head. On that day, Hathcock had luck
on his side. He had squeezed the trigger a split-second faster than the
other sniper. The Charlies were left to mourn the untimely demise of one
of their best snipers.
The dead Vietcong sniper had a reputation of being part of the jungle
because of his survival diet of rats, bugs, weeds and worms while he
preyed on his victims.
For those who love to read books on war, strategy and espionage, Marine
Sniper is a must-read. Movies like Enemy at the Gates probably copied a
few scenes from this account of Hathcock's life as a sniper.
Henderson has done a tremendous job of telling a great story about an
unusually talented man. There is no glorification of the killings. It was
a job and it was war. The rules were few but the targets were many. As far
as a sniper is concerned, it is always "better them than us".
The legend of Gunnery Sergeant Hathcock lives on today in the Marine
Corps Scout/Sniper Instructor School. Its foundation was built on the
successes of people like Hathcock and his contributions during and after
the Vietnam war.
Reading a book like this tends to make pen-pushers feel like wimps. It's
a guy thing, I guess. Made me feel like going out to the backyard with my
catapult, pick up a pebble, and shoot at a tree trunk.
Cracking The Value code - How Successful Businesses Are Creating Wealth in
the New Economy
By Richard E S Boulton, Barry D Libert and Steve M Samek
Publisher: Harper Business

THERE are aspects of economy that befuddle many of us non-economists. But every book on management or economics have facts and figures that will benefit anyone of us who have the patience to pause and learn.

THIS book begins with the line `based on a three-year, 10,000-company
study...' At journey's end when the last page of the Epilogue is finally
turned over, there's a sense of great relief. It was no fun chewing
This is one `code' book that's hard to crack. It helps if the reader has
the mental stamina to plough through what seems like a vast field of
management jargon. The book's saving grace is found in the numerous true-
case studies of companies which have actually identified and applied the
necessary values. The benefits are seen in their healthy balance sheets.
To achieve an elementary understanding of this book, a five-minute
visual study of the Contents page is compulsory. In particular, scrutinise
the sub-headings under Parts 1, 2 & 3. Part 1 deals with `See What
Matters'; Part 2 covers `Invest in What Matters' and Part 3 touches on
`Manage What Matters'.
The book's objective is clear but its delivery is long and winding.
There is a generous display of bar charts, horizontal and vertical but
their merits and usefulness are held in serious doubt.
However, a one-word write-off of this book would be grossly unfair to
its authors. Half-through the book, there emerged a distinct but not an
altogether unpleasant flavour that calls for closer attention.
In the first section `See What Matters', it is said: `Today's business
world has been transformed by globalisation, breakthrough technologies,
and new levels of competition in which old rules of business are
constantly breached. These are the hallmarks of the New Economy, and they
leave companies with no choice but to develop new business models attuned
to the new reality. Old ways of managing and measuring assets no longer
Managers are asked how can they create greater value for their
companies. The answer is to identify the firm's most important sources of
value and scrutinising intangible assets that fall largely outside the
formal measurement system.
Intangible assets come in the form of employees and customers. Strange
as it may seem, about 85 per cent of 250 executives interviewed revealed
that although they recognised the significance of investment in workers
and clients, less than 35 per cent of them said they acted accordingly.
The middle section `Invest in What Matters' focuses on employees because
people are deemed as human capital. It is said that the `value of employee
assets lies in their skills, knowledge, experience, and attitudes and is
enhanced by an organisation's ability to hire, train, motivate and retain
the best people'.
USAA, a property and casualty insurance group, stands out as a shining
example of a firm that creates value with employees. USAA in its 77-year
history has the enviable record of attaining the best customer service in
its industry. USAA insists that its 22,400 employees are `passionate about
serving people' and new workers have to attend at least 10 weeks of
training sessions.
Some of the aspects discussed at length throughout the book are abstract
to the unknowing mind. Fortunately, there is a glossary.
Richard Boulton, Barry Libert and Steve Samek, the co-authors of this
book are senior partners of Arthur Andersen. Arthur Andersen is an
organisation that focuses on assurance, tax, consulting and corporate
finance. The company employs 77,000 people in 84 countries and has a long
tradition of excellence since 1913.
Putting it all together in the final section of `Manage What Matters',
the three joint authors of Cracking the Value Code suggest that when all
else fails, break all the rules.
They cite the example of Encyclopedia Britannica which, in October 1999,
arrived at the decision to give away the contents of its 32-volume
reference set which was selling at US$1,300 (RM4,940). Its strategy was to
get advertising revenue of US$35 million a year. During the first week
when was launched, the Internet hits on the site totalled
10 million per day.
Whether the reader agrees with what is discussed in the book is not so
important. The importance lies in the fact that most of the principles
mentioned have been applied to varying degrees of success by
organisations, big and small.
The topics covered and the case studies highlighted are thought-
provoking. They may be unpalatable as garden snails to those outside this
field of specialised interest but the formulas for success are well argued
and deserve at least some hours of rational thought and contemplation.
The Alternative City Guide
By Lam Seng Fatt
(Times Books International)

ALMOST everything you want to know about the ancient side of KL but don't know where to start is found in this book. It is a neat little tome that contains some interesting facts about a city that was founded on tin back about 130 years ago. KL has a rich heritage that was and still is a melting pot of the best from the East and West.

IMAGINE riding on the Light Rail Transit from Kelana Jaya to the Central
Market. As the LRT approaches Bangsar, a sweet voice over the PA system
announces "Abdullah Hukum". Like many of your fellow commuters, you
mentally ask, "Who is he?"
If you, like me, have puzzled over the identity of this mysterious man,
wonder no more. Lam Seng Fatt will enlighten you on Abdullah's background.
Lam's Insider's Kuala Lumpur is the product of a lot of homework and
legwork on KL and is a real pleasure to read. It has lots of interesting
bits of information that any KL resident would be thrilled to receive.
For example, Loke Yew Road, near Merdeka Stadium, is named after a man
who came to this part of the world at the tender age of 11. Like all the
other notable greats, he started life almost penniless but ended up owning
tin mines, rubber plantations and properties.
For 20 years in the second half of the 19th Century, Loke Yew ruled over
Kuala Lumpur. He was so rich he even issued his own bank notes. By the
time he died, his fame and fortune had spread to Hong Kong and Singapore.
Kuala Lumpur's history is as rich as the alluvial soil upon which it is
built. Lam, our intrepid journalist, has done a commendable job of
foraging and ferreting out remnants of past events which are significant
and relevant to present-day KLites. Many of us will no doubt find the
insider stories of famous buildings and prominent names rather charming,
perhaps even amusing.
A case in point is Carcosa Seri Negara. The mansion was built in 1898 at
the cost of $67,000. Frank Swettenham, who built it and subsequently lived
there, gave it the name Carcosa, which actually originated from a book of
horror stories called The King in Yellow, by Robert Chambers.
It would be great if Insider's Kuala Lumpur came with zero defects, but
I have a minor grouse to make. There are no photographs of the famous
personalities mentioned - people like Chow Kit, Loke Yew, Abdullah Hukum,
Thamboosamy Pillai, Dr E.A.O. Travers, Choo Kia Peng, Chua Cheng Bok, etc.
Photographs would have allowed for much-needed identification with the
There are pictures of established buildings like the Bangunan Sultan
Abdul Samad and the KL Railway Station, but even these are a trifle too
small. Perhaps Lam should display bigger pictures and add portraits or
photographs of the said personalities in the second edition, regardless of
cost to the publisher.
There is a nice mix of ancient and modern in this book. The Petronas
Twin Towers are given above-average coverage, with details on construction
and what went into them and how they compare with buildings of near
similar height in other parts of the world. The KL Tower gets the same in-
depth treatment.
The origins of Kampung Baru and its humble beginnings will delight many,
to be sure. So will stories about the city's more notorious criminals like
Botak Chin and Bentong Kali.
Overall, Lam Seng Fatt has done a marvellous job. In a bright and breezy
fashion, he has proven rather convincingly that Kuala Lumpur is really
quite a great city with a very rich past.
Voice of Management: The Malaysian Challenge
Published by the Malaysian Institute of Management

If THERE are some things you need to know about management in the Malaysian scene, this book may be the portal you are looking for. Answers sometimes come from the most inconsipicuous sources. Don't say you didn't receive a helping hand.....

THE multitude of management books that occupy numerous shelves of
bookstores mainly come from the West. It is indeed nice for a change to
come across, now and then, a volume that is home-grown.
On this premise, one can keenly observe from closer quarters what works
and what doesn't in the Malaysian context. It is timely that the Malaysian
Institute of Management has painstakingly sieved through its 180
contributions in the Sunday Star's column `MIM Speaks' (1993 to 1999) and
came up with the fortuitous number of 88 articles for this book.
To make it reader-friendly, this collection comprises four
* Management in action: A question of competence;
* Lessons to Learn: Reflections and insights;
* Raising the Standard: Values and the new paradigm; and
* Managing the Future: A macro perspective.
In any book, a sense of honesty is vital. Any perceived subtle shift
from reality can be misconstrued as a denial syndrome. Fortunately, the
Voice of Management is free from this malaise which plagues some tomes.
The 88 articles are culled from the writings of 14 senior management
executives who at one time or another have held very responsible posts in
multinationals or key government agencies.
Any management student should read this book to understand the Malaysian
perspective. Management problems and processes are widely discussed in
other books involving issues which may be peculiar to their countries of
origin; these issues may not be relevant to our country.
This MIM book opens that window which is crucial to a deeper
understanding of management in the Malaysian situation. For example, in a
chapter entitled `Customers Do Come First,' the writer, S. Hadi Abdullah,
says, `When we buy a toaster, TV, VCR, mini-combo and the like, we are
provided with two-pin plugs. Every Malaysian home is fitted with power
points for a three-pin plug which includes the earthing. Why aren't
companies providing customers with three-pin plugs?' Yes, why not, indeed.
This is just one of the many issues that brings the matter closer to our
hearts and minds.
Another subject which Malaysian job-seekers ought to know more about is
the employers' perception of employees who are on a relentless hunt for a
better job. Dr Tarcisius Chin elucidates: `I have interviewed numerous
candidates for jobs and detect an increasing propensity to job-hop over
shorter intervals, sometimes into jobs that are totally incompatible.
There is a danger in this as it does tell a lot about who you are and the
prospect of your own loyalty to your new employer. At best you are treated
with caution and as someone not to be invested upon; at worst you are
treated as a mercenary, used for what you can now do and dropped in times
of economic crisis.'
Then, there is a series of chapters on famous Asian figures like
Konosuke Matsushita and Akio Morita. The stories of these two Japanese men
and how they stamped the label `Made in Japan' all over the world has an
exhilarating effect on the reader.
Matsushita, who started working at the tender age of nine, became the
youngest inspector of his company at the age of 22. When he died at age
94, Matsushita left behind a global concern with sales reaching five
trillion yen.
Likewise, Akio Morita, the founder of Sony Corporation, was gripped by
an obsession for excellence at a very early age. Born into a family which
produced sake for its people, Morita used to sit through `long and boring
board meetings' with his father.
When he was 25, Morita formed a company with Masaru Ibuka called Tokyo
Tsushi Kogyo Kabushiki Kaisha. The firm's name was later shortened to Sony
because it was easier on the tongue. Sony is an amalgam of the Latin word
sonus, for sound, and the English term `sonny boy', which was popular at
the time.
As most people today know, Sony Corporation is synonymous with the
Walkman. By the time Morita died on Oct 3, 1999, at the age of 78, he had
left behind a legacy that Japan as a nation can truly be proud of, for all
the right reasons.
MIM has covered a wide-ranging list of topics which should satisfy any
discerning resident of this country. Even the subject of ISO certification
has been covered - by Lam Hee Thong, a chartered production engineer.
Among the contributors of the articles, special mention should be
accorded to Chin. His thoughts on management issues are clear, insightful
and incisive. Clearly, the Malaysian Institute of Management is in good
hands because Chin is its chief executive officer.
It should be noted that the Voice of Management dwells on a specialised
subject. `Ordinary' people would not find it their cup of tea. For those
who are in the business of management or who aspire to be a manager par
excellence, this book would serve as a useful platform to view matters
crucial to Malaysian management.

Friday, October 14, 2005

HIGH EFFICIENCY SELLING - How Superior Salespeople Get That Way
By Stephan Schiffman

SALES is not a line that everyone can do. It takes certain inherent qualities to succeed. Those who do are usually individuals of a certain make. There are some like Zig Ziglar who have succeeded and written books on it. Here's another one for you to chew on.

FOR all those who labour under the notion that selling is a chore, this
book begs to differ. It is the writer's firm belief that selling is an
art. An art not unlike others that can be developed into a high-efficiency
As the title implies, the sales line can be a rewarding career, if you
know how to talk to the client. For example, it is important that a
salesperson believes in the product that is being sold. `You have to
believe in what you do for a living and the solutions you provide to your
customers,' he writes. `If you don't believe in your company, its goals or
its output, or if you have serious doubts about the true value of the
solutions you provide to prospective customers, then you are looking at a
potentially catastrophic problem.'
This book delivers what it promises, and that is a proven plan to
maximise your sales; otherwise, you get your money back for the purchase
of the book. Any dissatisfied reader who desires to exercise this option
is reminded to read the fine print with regard to the conditions stated.
But apart from this minor distraction, Stephan Schiffman leaves no door
unknocked and no appointments unkept. High Efficiency Selling is the
culmination of a lifelong dedication to the art of salesmanship.
Schiffman is the president of a management group in New York City. He is
also the author of eight books, all on the art of business and sales.
Schiffman has trained more than 300,000 people from some of the top
corporations in America, including AT&T and Motorola.
The methodical approach to selling could be the answer sought by those
salespeople who have been `hitting the wall' or walking around in circles
for years.
The book instructs salespeople quite clearly on how to create their own
personal prospecting programme. This involves making the calls, drafting
attention and identification statements and making good the request.
On making calls, Schiffman advises, `When we make a telephone cold call,
our aim is to set up an appointment. Nothing less and nothing more. In
most selling situations, we are not out to try to close the sale, gather
massive amounts of information over the phone, or have a great
conversation. We want to introduce ourselves briefly, make a short
statement or two about what we have to offer, and then try to set up an
appointment for a face-to-face meeting.'
One of the most dreaded experiences of many salespeople is making cold
calls. The writer is a master at transforming cold calls into hot
prospects. In fact, he has written a bestseller entitled Cold Calling
Being able to make a giant leap over dead-end phone conversations is
what separates the big boys and the novices. Schiffman seems to have all
the answers to this problem.
Salespeople are encouraged to make at least 20 calls a day. Out of this
number, the salesperson may set up five appointments and from this, he or
she may close one deal. The front-line salesman is advised that every
rejection he gets is worth money to him.
Therefore, everyone who has chosen this profession is counselled never
to forget the fundamentals: he or she should devote time frequently to
prospecting. This is a surefire way of laying the foundation for what
would ultimately be a successful career.
It is an undeniable fact that not many people like to be recruited into
the sales profession. The most common reason given is the fear or
annoyance of rejection. This so-called sensitive subject is discussed at
length early in the book.
All successful salespeople are described as committed, `not normal',
self-motivated, accountable, thinking in the long-term, having a right
attitude and being optimistic. If you score in six of the seven
categories, you could be on your way to being enrolled in the
Salespeople's Hall of Fame.
What is encouraging about Schiffman's message in the book is that its
principles can be applied to other professions as well. In fact, any
professional who has to interact with other people, or whose work involves
co-operation with other professionals, will surely find some of
Schiffman's techniques useful.
If you have been stuck in a rut for years, or months that seem like
years, then it's time to get hold of this `sales bible' and digest its
contents religiously. You will be taught the 10 commandments of contacting
target companies. You will find the tools to conduct an effective client
interview. Lastly, you will be shown the simple and successful methods of
closing the deal.
If you as a salesman think that the phrase `What do you think?' is a
common and slightly overused statement, think again. This phrase is a
proven technique that is described as an intelligent approach to wooing
the client.
Never mind if you have seen or heard of these sales methods before. Take
a closer look at what Stephan Schiffman has to say. He is clear on the
subject. He is optimistic and exudes confidence about his selling points.
Basically, he comes across as a winner in every way. You may be surprised
that there are more than a few things that you could learn from this
master of the game.
108 TIPS FOR TIME TRAVELLERS - Your Essential Guide to New Technology and
the Future. By Peter Cochrane.

The future is guaranteed to be fascinating, even though all of us haven't seen it yet. Peter Cochrane can however imagine what it will be or might be. He based this thoughts on intelligence gathered in his professional career.

IMAGINE you have the privilege of catching a glimpse of the future through
someone else's eyes. Feel the accompanying adrenalin rush of one who
partakes in an experience quite unlike that of any other ordinary
Now know this is a rare opportunity. The man who proffers this is Peter
Cochrane. Someone quite in tune with things beyond today. This guide is
not written for academics, researchers or scientists. It is for the
ordinary folk like you and I, who usually do not have the time to read the
entire newspaper on a daily basis.
The only prerequisite for reading this book is that you need to be
acquainted to some small degree with artificial intelligence, or maybe in
another sense, information technology. If you have no inkling of either,
your interest in this book should stop at the end of this sentence.
Cochrane's compiled contribution is the sum of his works for the Daily
Telegraph over the years. In his column, he muses over things that-will-
be. In his position as head of research at British Telecom, he is well
placed to project his thoughts of a futuristic environment for the
A person can mentally jog through this book with the nonchalant attitude
of an individual who has no interest in the future, or he could be a
serious voyeur of a third millennium planet. Either way, he will benefit
from Cochrane's cerebral gymnastic exercises, sometimes thought-provoking,
sometimes merely entertaining.
There are fascinating nuggets of information scattered all over the
pages. Just when you think you have better things to do than to continue
with the book, Cochrane comes up with this: `At a conservative estimate,
and assuming we could use every corner of our brain (which we cannot),
each of us could store about 5,000 years' worth of continuous
conversation, and about five years' worth of continuous video.
`At an altitude of 10km, a balloon has a line-of-sight surface horizon
of some 350km, and there a radio communication footprint of the order of
700km in diameter.
`Sulphuric acid bubbles violently out of volcanic vents at about 400
degrees centigrade, creating a highly toxic mix with deep-ocean salt water
at four degrees. This mix is so toxic to us that there is no legal way we
could get a permit to dump waste of equal toxicity into the ocean. And yet
there are worms and crabs in great numbers and variety feeding off a layer
of white bacteria that lies inches-thick over vast expanses of the seabed
surrounding these vents.'
There are 108 items altogether from front to back. They are described as
`monologues' by the writer himself. As he explains: `Each monologue is
self-contained and so they can be read in any order. There seems to be no
logical way to order the subject matter. And I made no effort to do so.'
Peter Cochrane has credentials (BSc, MSc, PhD, and DSc) which will
impress even the cleverest among us. The wonderful revelation is that he
does not even come across as cocky in his writings.
The thoughts of this scientist are manufactured via his laptop which has
crashed on numerous occasions at great altitudes on trans-Atlantic
flights. Even scientists are prone to technological frustrations that
plague most of us PC users on one occasion or another. The only exception
is that he talks about them in a clinical manner. He analyses the hardware
problem and sometimes clears the trail until he tracks the source of the
problem to a software bug.
Despite his privileged position at British Telecom, he is not isolated
from the myriad woes that pervade and permeate the IT realm. At the end of
the day, he is still an ordinary dad who goes home to his wife and
Being in the forefront of the artificial revolution gives Cochrane an
enormous advantage over lesser mortals like us. From his vantage point,
much can be discerned, and much more can be discarded as technological
trivia or mechanical toys that are merely passing fads.
One can describe the writer as a traveller who has a season pass on a
time machine. Actually, he does not get off the machine but merely catches
glimpses of the world-to-be from the window of his Time Capsule.
Cochrane puts it succinctly a subject which is close to his personal
interest - the computer.
`Computers are already the most effective and powerful mind magnifiers
that humans have ever produced. Without computers we would not understand
the detail of chaos, weather systems, epidemiology, DNA, the turbulent
flow of air over an aircraft wing, our own genome, and very much more,'
proclaims the Master of the Universe of technological bits and bytes.
For the common man, this book comes at a time on Earth when science
seems to reign supreme. The third Millennium beckons. Unmanned spacecraft
now orbit the outer limits somewhere near Mars to provide information on a
planet which has intrigued a major portion of Earth's population with its
mysteries, spread chiefly by science fiction novels.
Cochrane's literary contribution helps you take that one step beyond.
Boldly going where few men have gone before in their imagination. There,
out there, on the outer fringes of man's imagination, accompanied by the
numerous scientific and engineering breakthroughs, the reader is given a
mental tour of what it is like to live in a world beyond tomorrow.
Basically, catching more than a glimpse of the environment that your great
grandchildren will live in. What a thrill, even for most of us who are
armchair time travellers.
THE WAY OF THE SAMURAI for Millennium Executives by Khoo Kheng-Hor.

There's much we all need to about everything but sometimes someone comes along to elaborate about matters like the Code of Bushido and how its principles can be applied in the world of business. Before you rush off the front door and never look back, pause and think about the little voice inside your head: "everything comes with a purpose." On that note, I leave you to your thoughts.

PICTURE this: you are in a life-and-death situation. You are totally
focused. You have nothing in your mind except your opponent. The only aim
is victory; death is insignificant because you are prepared for it. In
such an event, victory is but a cut-and-thrust away because you are the
living embodiment of the Code of Bushido.
As Khoo Kheng-Hor sees it, the Way of the Warrior (Bushido) is
applicable to the world of business. He draws lessons from the samurais of
16th century Japan for the benefit of modern-day executives. His points
are not original, but the manner in which he has submitted his
observations is distinctly his own.
Anyone familiar with samurais of the bygone era will recognise names
like Miyamoto Musashi or Yagyu Munenori. These are but two of a long list
of warriors to emerge from the Land of the Rising Sun and enter the
management hall of fame.
Khoo quotes generously from Musashi's well-known text, The Book of Five
Rings. `The carpenter is like a low-ranking warrior,' says Musashi. `For
example, the carpenter sharpens his tools himself, maintains various
tools, and carries them around in a box. He follows the instructions of
his chief ... Personally learn well the techniques of the carpenter. When
you comprehend the plans well, in due course you can become a chief.' In
the corporate domain, the methods of gaining advantage over your opponents
are found in the blood-stained chapters of Japan's samurai annals. In
those pages of history where serious issues were very often settled at the
edge of a very sharp sword, foreknowledge of an opponent's terrain and
circumstances surrounding his life are deemed essential to success.
For students of military science, Sun Tzu is often the name, and war is
the only game. Khoo, an authority on Sun Tzu as his numerous books will
testify, now plunges into the battlefields of the powerful shoguns to
bring forth what 20th century Japanese executives have known for decades.
To them, business is war. They have been mentally and culturally
prepared for it for eons. To the chagrin of other corporate figures
elsewhere, this realisation dawned on them only after Panasonic, Honda,
Mitsubishi, Aiwa and Sony had entered their living rooms and bedrooms.
With such seemingly simple credos like `the best defence is attack,'
Japanese companies have managed to cut and thrust their way into
consumers' minds the world over.
Four hundred years ago, the legendary swordsman Musashi, whose prowess
was unequalled, postulated, `No matter what happens, the preference is for
a position where you can move freely to lead the opponent around, that is,
to be on the offensive.'
The uninitiated may find this kind of talk gobbledegook. But in the
Samurai Way of Management, this type of mindset gives the predatory firm
an advantage in almost every scenario.
Ponder the words of Musashi about following through with the attack:
`Now, in actual battle, one should try to chase the opponent around by
going to the left, in order to force him into a weak position. Once
cornered, the opponent should be chased so that he does not have the
opportunity to look around, that is, not know where he is.'
It would be, of course, too simplistic to attribute all the glory of
success to the shogun or samurai. For a battle to be won decisively, one
must have able troops. Hence, it is necessary, even imperative, to recruit
the right people with the correct skills in order for operations to flow
Very quickly then, these are some principles which must be observed in
the hiring of `soldiers':
1. The right attitude is often an indicator. It is recommended that a
potential candidate for a job be one who is filled with enthusiasm, for in
such a person will the firm often have an able worker.
2. Practise open-mindedness. Bosses be advised that it is no shame to
hire people cleverer than you. Clever people, treated with fairness and in
the right way, often save bosses from looking stupid, be it in the
immediate term or distant future. Surrounding oneself with `yes-men' is
often a prelude to self-destruction.
3. Get the right number of people. In other words, don't over-employ. It
is fine to have many hands making work light, as the cliche goes, but the
company's budget can only stand so much strain in hard times. This lesson
has been learned most painfully by many troubled firms in current
turbulent economic times.
Khoo, who was the director of operations of Kentucky Fried Chicken in
Singapore before he embarked on a career of his choice, speaks from
experience on various aspects of management.
On his advice for the employer `to perceive that which the eye cannot
see', Khoo suggests that employees must be aided in fulfilling their own
dreams. It is unrealistic to believe that every worker wants to be
employed by the company until retirement. There will always be some who
harbour thoughts of venturing out on their own in a big way. These
employees must be given every opportunity, for it is giving opportunities
to its workers that the company gains in stature and wealth.
Another piece of advice concerns care in handling minor matters like
manners and courtesy. `If you are observant, you will find that the little
things often tell the big story,' says Khoo. `Indeed, it is the small
details that really matter. For example, I have met people who greeted me
with nice words, like "I'm so delighted to meet you," etc, but because
their facial expressions did not seem to show their delight and as their
eyes were not looking at me but diverted to someone else, I did not take
their words very much to heart.'
The Way of the Samurai for Millennium Executives is chockfull of guiding
principles for the Malaysian corporate people. Even though it lacks
literary finesse, it proves its worth with its magnificent spread of
anecdotes which both inform and entertain.
Unlike other management tomes which frequently weigh heavily on one's
mind and on one's hands, this book shows its mettle not unlike how a
samurai handles a quarrelsome rival: a straight thrust to the heart with
the katana (long sword). Its examples derived from colourful characters
like Takeda Shingen, Oda Nobunaga, Toyotomi Hideyoshi and Tokugawa Ieyasu
leave more than a subliminal effect on an eager mind.
This book is best read without any expectations. If one's aim is simply
to be informed, one may be delighted to feel the touch of zen that writer
Khoo has left behind in some unobtrusive parts of his book.

JACK WELCH SPEAKS: Wisdom from the World's Greatest Business Leader by
Janet Lowe

MOST Americans know who Jack Welch is but his leadership is a behind closed door subject for many years. And now the man himself speaks, and there's a lot he wants to say. Hear him out!

WOULD you listen to a man who has been described as `the most acclaimed
SOB of the 1980s'? He also runs a company that employs about 240,000
people. In 1997, the company's market capitalisation was US$200 billion
(RM760 billion) - the first firm of its kind to achieve such a feat in the
world. His company is General Electric and his name is Jack Welch.
When a person of such stature struts into a room and speaks for whatever
reason, most people will sit up and listen.
In this book, GE chairman and chief executive officer Jack Welch talks a
lot. Obviously, he has a right to and he has plenty to say. The character
of Welch brings to mind another fellow American who was just as outspoken
and dynamic. That person is Lee Iaccoca, the former president of Chrysler.
One of the memorable quotations from Welch is, "We are going to demand
from you earnings growth every year. Those are the rules of the road. You
take charge of your destiny. If you don't, we will.'
Depending on the individual, an employee who hears this remark will
either tremble in fear, or idolise his new hero.
Janet Lowe, who also wrote Warren Buffet Speaks, has not pulled any
punches. She covers the many good sides of the General Electric CEO and
exposes some of the negative aspects as well.
In 1985, federal prosecutors in Philadelphia charged General Electric's
Re-Entry Systems with 108 counts of criminal fraud. The prosecutors
claimed that GE executives responsible for a new nose cone for the Air
Force's Minuteman Missile system had altered workers' time cards, cheating
the US government of US$800,000.
Initially, GE pleaded not guilty. However, on further investigations, GE
eventually admitted wrongdoing.
Welch's reaction to the episode: `The most gut-wrenching thing was being
battered in the defence scandal. It hurt, it hurt a lot. We love this
place and somebody was throwing stones at it. We went down a lot of paths
(figuring out what happened). It takes a long time because (people) come
in with arguments about the complexity of government rules and a lot of
other things. Then we got to the point where we concluded that someone did
cheat, someone did try to beat the system. Until we got to that point, we
were chasing ourselves around in a circle. But it isn't the government's
fault. It's basic integrity.'
Then in 1991, another scandal erupted. Edward Russell was sacked as head
of GE's diamond unit by Welch. Russell's reaction was to visit the Federal
Bureau of Investigation's office concerning GE's alleged involvement with
a Swiss subsidiary of the De Beers Group in fixing prices on industrial
In 1992, Russell also sued GE for wrongful dismissal. The outcome was
the dismissal charge was thrown out and a third charge was settled out of
court between Russell and GE. Russell eventually signed an affidavit
saying his sacking was unrelated to price-fixing and he had no personal
knowledge of any anti-trust wrongdoing.
Welch later said, `Whether it was a price-fixing scandal in the 1960s, a
bribery case in the 1970s, or a defence timecard issue in the 1980s, a
company of 300,000 to 400,000 people always has to be vigilant. All the
practices and all the paper in the world will never stop one or two
individuals from going outside the corral. Our job - everybody's job - is
to talk integrity, preach integrity, and in every instance, live
For more than 17 years, Welch has been at the helm of one of the best
run companies in the world. When he graduated from the University of
Illinois in 1960 with a PhD in chemical engineering, Welch had three job
offers on his table. Destiny must have planned something really special
for him because he picked GE for personal reasons.
From this book, one forms the impression that Welch is an extremely
confident CEO who not only talks fast but also with great candour. Welch
said, `Managing success is a tough job. There's a very fine line between
self-confidence and arrogance. Success breeds both, along with a
reluctance to change.'
Jack Welch Speaks is an enormously fun book to read. Welch is not your
ordinary, run-of-the-mill corporate chairman. Words from his mouth spew
out like bullets from an overactive AK-47. Those who are on the receiving
end of those fast-moving words can sometimes feel their piercing message.
Consider his philosophy of work: `If someone tells me, "I'm working 90
hours a week," I say, "You are doing something terribly wrong." I go
skiing on the weekend, I go out with my buddies on Friday and party.
You've got to do the same or you've got a bad deal.'
Lowe's latest book on one of America's foremost CEOs is one which you
would want to read if you are in dire need of that `pick-me-up' feeling.
Quotations from Jack Welch's awesome arsenal of quotes can inspire most
budding executives who may have had a long, hard day at the office.
Jack Welch Speaks deserves at least two readings. Read it the first time
in one sitting. According to Welch, `Speed is everything. It is the
indispensable ingredient in competitiveness. Speed keeps business and
people young. It's addictive, and it's a profoundly American taste we need
to cultivate.'
Some of Welch's quotes are good enough to be copied and then put up on
your personal noticeboard. The chairman of GE can sometimes be profound
and at times, fun. This book is both.
RETIRE RICH - The Baby Boomer's Guide to a Secure Future

If you are middle-aged, then you are a baby-boomer. I believe that is a term that refers to those who were born between 1946-1965. If your future looks hazy right now, maybe you should sit down and read a few chapters of this book.

RETIRE Rich - The Baby Boomer's Guide to a Secure Future by Bambi Holzer,
Publisher: John Wiley & Sons, 222 pages, Price: RM71.10
Many of us want to retire rich. And there is an overwhelming number of
us who desperately want to be rich before we retire. Realistically, few
among us wage earners get to climb to the top of the totem pole and become
members of the club of professionals who are wealthy years before they
call it a day.
So, in a way, Retire Rich comes in handy as it is supposed to knock some
sense into most of us who are hardcore dreamers as opposed to being
diehard doers. Bambi Holzer specifically targeted her book at baby boomers
- those born between 1946 and 1964.
People whose ages range between 34 and 52 are supposed to be planning
their retirement NOW! A retirement plan of substance should be implemented
early so as to reap maximum benefits. It is very much like opting for an
insurance policy. The younger you are when you take up an insurance
policy, the more you will benefit from it.
A word of caution here. This book lists numerous plans which may not be
familiar to many of us. Holzer mentions plans such as the Keogh, 401(k)
and the Individual Retirement Accounts (IRA). These are American
creations. In Malaysia, their equivalents are probably the Employee
Provident Fund (EPF), Socso and the Government Pension Scheme.
The book, however, has its plus points. It serves to encourage those who
have slipped past the half-century mark that the best is yet to come. It
carries an impressive list of superachievers who did their best work in
their sixties. These people include famous people like Picasso, Carl Jung,
Bob Hope, Colonel Sanders and Charles Darwin.
Picasso completed some of his best works at the age of 73. Carl Jung
wrote The Psychology of Transference at 70. Bob Hope entertained US
soldiers in the Persian Gulf at the age of 87. Colonel Sanders founded
Kentucky Fried Chicken at 66 and Charles Darwin finished his masterpiece
The Theory of Evolution at 62.
What all this means is that there is still plenty of hope for all of us.
To begin with, Holzer reminds us to imagine the perfect retirement life
and work towards that vision. Then, it is time to ask the question: how
much do we really need to retire on? That depends on your future needs and
retirement plan. If you are planning to own three bungalows in three of
your favourite states, then obviously you need more than the usual
In the words of Holzer, `The term "retirement" assumes that the wages
you currently earn to support yourself and your family will no longer be
available, either because you have chosen to stop working at your primary
occupation or because circumstances beyond your control have forced you to
stop working. The purpose of retirement planning, then, is to arrange to
have other sources of income to replace those lost wages and to ensure
that the income is sufficient to meet your needs for as long as you live.'
Sounds simple enough. However, there are a few sand traps you have to be
careful of. One, inflation. Two, taxes. Holzer suggests a few nifty ways
of avoiding these after-retirement blues. One of them is reviewing your
retirement plan annually. In this way, you are constantly keeping one step
ahead of all socio-economic surprises.
Retire Rich also explains in detail schemes for self-employed
individuals. For the entrepreneurs, it is recommended that they think of
profit-sharing plans, money purchase plans, target benefit plans, defined
benefit plans and cross-tested profit-sharing plans.
Retire Rich is divided into four parts. Part Three has great
significance because it covers investing. In this category, the nitty-
gritty of how to make your retirement fund grow are spelled out. It
teaches the uninformed persons ways to ascertain the type of risks, the
degree of risk and the method of 'putting it all together'.
Next, it explains thoroughly the concept of stocks, bonds, mutual funds
and asset allocation. On a personal basis, Part Three came as a
revelation. For the other members of the public who I boldly assume have
limited knowledge of the issues at hand, learning by heart what these all
entail will only hold you in good stead in future.
On bonds, the question is, `are bonds safer than stocks?'. Holzer says,
`Bonds have traditionally been considered safer than stocks. But whether
this is true or not depends on what you mean by "safe". It also depends on
what you intend to do with your bond after you buy it. If there's a chance
you will need to sell it prior to maturity, bonds are not safe at all;
there have been periods in the past when economic stability and rapidly
moving interest rates have caused bond prices to be more volatile than
`If you plan to hold the bond to maturity, you do not need to worry
about interest-rate changes and price fluctuations, but you do need to
worry about the loss of purchasing power over the 20 years or so that you
hold the bond.'
If the reader is like the rest of us lesser beings whose knowledge of
mutual funds is very close to zilch, then the chapter on mutual funds must
be considered mandatory reading. It sheds stadium-powered lights on a
subject that has become an investment of choice for some because it
provides the individual with a chance to own shares in a diversified
portfolio of stocks and bonds for a comparatively small sum of money.
In the whole tool box of retire-rich implements, one of the most
important is probably asset allocation. This process is a `disciplined
method of deciding where to put your money. With a prearranged plan that
tells you how much to put in stocks, how much to put in bonds and how much
to keep in cash, you are less likely to agonise over your investment
decisions and then panic when the markets dish up new surprises'.
The three main aims of asset allocation are:
* minimising the investor's fear,
* helping to make sense of the market, and
* helping to maintain confidence in the individual's position.
Holzer's investment strategies for baby boomers, and even those who do
not belong to the boomers group, are food for thought simply because sound
advice cannot be ignored.
Consider the logic of investing for the long term. Since long term means
the end of what can be a long professional career, it begs careful
accounting of all factors. It also means close scrutiny of matters that
are expected to affect a person's long-term investments. Of course, it
does not mean not taking risks. Risks should be taken but not thoughtless
ventures. The focus should be an unwavering focus on the future.
If all the above rules are followed to the letter, the chances of a
successful investment plan are increased manifold.
This guide to a more secure future is definitely not an action-packed
novel, nor is it a techno-thriller of Tom Clancy's standard. On its own
terms, it will determine, to a large extent, in the end whether you can
afford to buy books to read after you retire or fulfil that dream holiday
you have been thinking about all your life.
As a very intelligent retired person once advised: `Begin planning your
retirement the first day you start work.' The remark is a gem of an
advice. I now wish to pass it on. Holzer's book will fill in the gaps.