Read White Man Returns by Agnes Newton Keith Online


The Keith Family returns to post-war North Borneo....

Title : White Man Returns
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9781125277645
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 580 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

White Man Returns Reviews

  • Lilisa
    2019-01-06 11:46

    The third book in the Borneo trilogy, this one focuses on the period following the Keith family’s release from the Japanese POW/internment camps on the island of Borneo. After being interned for four years, Harry, Agnes and their six-year old son George return to North America to Victoria, British Columbia to be among family, to heal and to forget. But before long Harry is asked to return to Borneo to assist with rebuilding the devastated island and despite Agnes’ concerns, decides to make his way back to be part of the efforts. He and Agnes can never repay the kindness of the locals as well as the risks they took smuggling food into the prison camps, helping the prisoners in any way they could to ease the hardship of living in pitiful conditions. Returning to Borneo to help with the work was one of the ways in which he could do that. Agnes and George soon follow – and once again the Keith family are back on the tropical island amidst the locals, Harry off to work and Agnes acting as full-time referee between the household help. All in all this book felt somewhat similar to the first book – living the life of the “white man” among the locals hasn’t changed too dramatically, the humorous goings on between the household help provided some pleasure, but not quite with the same intensity since we’d experienced it in book 1. For the most part, the Keiths’ lives were at this point more mundane than in books 1 and 2. Keith’s writing is charming and elegant and the book is still a decent read. I definitely recommend reading books 1 and 2, which are more interesting than this one. Here are my reviews of the other two books: Land Below the Wind - and Three Came Home -

  • Vivian
    2019-01-05 10:36

    After the Keiths were freed from a Japanese internment camp during WWII on the island of Borneo they have an all-too-brief recuperation in Canada. This story is about their return to Borneo to participate in re-building the country following the war. The author introduces us to many interesting people. It is a very engaging and sometimes insightful narrative.Thoughts shared...p. 82 The more I know of aborigines the more I suspect that only time, unhurried, unharassed, unorganized, untiring and unbeatable, will tell on them. But time will. And meanwhile the factor that the primitive people of Borneo need for civilization is the liberty which alone prepares me for liberty.p. 142 Goerge at seven is either full-speed or full-stop... (great description)p. 270 But the young woman who writes me today is no longer a Eurasian girl assailing the Western world--she is a woman proudly Chinese. Jeannette writes: First I must warn you not to jump to conclusions and start thinking that we are behind the "bamboo curtain" and all such bosh on which American politicians and journalists dwell with such delight. Not being totally Chinese, I must say that I too sometimes feel it is hard to understand the Chinese, though it is easier for me to do so than for a Westerner. But the real trouble with most people is that they do not even bother to try to understand the Chinese, because it is more restful to just dismiss us from their minds. The few months preceding the liberation of Shanghai were were so confused that I hope never to see such times again. The KMT once again showed its inability to cope with a situation which it had created with its own hands, because it had sunk so low that it just couldn't rise for any kind of effort. The monetary situation was absolutely terrible, with the black market reigning supreme and price fluctuations so violent, that if one did not dispose of one's money immediately, ti lost as much as 50 per cent of its value within a few hours. When our salary was due, we tried to get it as fast as possible, as a delay of 10 or 20 minutes meant a big loss. There were Chinese silver dollars in circulation and peddlers at every corner selling and buying them, and the tinkling of coins as they rang them became a familiar and irritating sound, with prices being upped all the time and white-collar employees and others were wondering whether to buy Chinese or U.S. dollars, and where no to get cheated. Pay day was not workday for any of us, but a series of speculative suggestions, and when one thinks back it was all very funny--but at the time it was more tragic! Though it was a foregone conclusion that Shanhai would fall to the Communists, we did not think it would happen so fast, at least, not when the KMT was boasting of its impregnable defenses and warning the population to stock in six months' supplies. One of the fortifications built around the city was alternately called "great wall of Shanghai," or "toothpick defense," and consisted merely of a wooden barrier. No doubt someone managed to get quite a bit into his pockets on that project! The battle of Shanghai was quickly decided. On the morning of May 25th and KMT had a "victory parade" in town to celebrate the "huge victories" they had gained! At two p.m. the same afternoon they were retreating, and the People's Liberation Army came in around 10 p.m., and we were awakened by the sound of running feet in our street and discovered the KMT soldiers were running full speed toward the Bund with all their gear. When we got up the next morning, the city had been liberated--all very peacefully except for a little resistance in some districts, which was quickly put down. The first surprise in Shanghai was the good discipline of the PLA soldiers--we had become so accustomed to the behavior of the KMT soldiers who were always disorderly, and more a public menace than a protection; they would throw grenades in theaters and cinemas because they couldn't get in free of charge, and beat up or shoot bus or tram conductors who would ask them for tickets, ad infinitum. On the contrary, an event never before witnessed in China, the PLA man is polite, pays for everything he buys, and is well disciplined. Yet he does not have a beautiful uniform, and many of them wear plain Chinese shoes. It is argued that the reason for it is because he knows why he is fighting, and I believe this is true. (She writes several more pages). p. 277 (to her husband upon finishing reading the letter aloud to him) What she says is no doubt true, the facts are there. She is an intelligent young woman, and that is the way it all looks to her. If so, it's frightening! ...Just how and why did we (the United States) fail to be that friend?Because we didn't promise the right things. It's as Jeannette said, democracy and freedom half the world away have no meaning to people who have never known them--people who are schooled to the bondage of want. (later, on a trip to town) I met old man Lo the next day, the paterfamilias of at least a hundred local Los, the best Chinese in our country. I asked him what impressions he had received on his recent visit to China, about the Communist regime. "Very energetic!" Mr. Lo said promptly. "Very busy, very hard workers, and at first, very good! The Pople's Army comes into a village, the soldiers have ragged uniforms, but very fine discipline, and behave very politely and are honest, and always careful to pay for what they take. Then everybody very much impressed, and say Very good! Very good! And Communists say, Business as usual! "Soon a levy is made on all shops and businesses, and a heavy tax is collected from shopkeepers, either in money, or in donations of necessary foods and materials. Then the shopkeepers say,We cannot do this! But the Communists say, You must do it because you have shops and materials, and you must share. The shopkeepers say, If I give you my materials I cannot do business, then I do not have a shop, then I myself need help. This I go broke! So he goes broke! And then business is not as usual.""But China is a country with more people who have nothing to lose and something to gain," he continued, "than people who have plenty to lose. So more people will welcome Communists, than are afraid of Communists coming, for fear they lose something." "What about the KMT?" I asked. "Did they help business? Or did they hinder?" "Well, the Kuomintang did not help business, but they left shops and business alone." "But under the old system," I persisted, "didn't you have to pay assessments and private contributions to government officials, to keep your business going?" "Y-e-e-e-s, but we learn how, now. After we know the system, we make our money in spite of it. This Communism all right for young men who have nothing. Not good for old men like me who are too old to learn new ways." When Harry came home at noon I said, "Why don't you get some dependable, sensible man of property like Mr. Lo to talk to these young Chinese here who rush about so anxiously waiting to get a chance to wave the Red Flag? He might put some practical common-sense ideas into their heads." "Ol man Lo's worked hard all his life," Harry answereed, "and accumulated money and possessions in spite of the abueses of his own government. But there isn't a single young Chinese who would listen to what the old man says. Any more than they'd listen to me! The day of the old men, and the white man, is past in the East."p. 287 (regarding the murder trial of a member of the Thirteen Essential Ingredients) The diary owner was asked to explain why he was considering these people for assassination. He gave as his reasoned response the following statement: "I wrote those names when I was in a bad state of mind!" A bad state of mind, which is so bad that to remedy itself it feels justified in and takes steps towards promoting the murder of men of outstanding integrity, honesty, and unshelfish dealing, is more than a bad temper. ... A bad state of mind is a name for what takes place in a man's mind when he experiences a strong emotional urge for an end he believes legitimate, and at the same time finds himself without legitimate means of achieving the end. To such a state, there are three possible answers: one, to exterminate the minds in which the desire exists; two, to eliminate the desire from the minds; three, to concede to the desire. By our own creed, and all the oaths that we have sworn at others for ruthless methods, we are forbidden to give the first answer, extermination. By our claims to educate subject peoples for self-government, we are morally forbidden to give the second answer, even if it were within our power to eliminate the desire for self-rule from the heart of men. Yet to give the third answer, self-rule for inexperienced peoples, when their primary need is still food and housing, is economically dangerous. And to give self-rule to any group not yet able to keep its own independence and maintain self-rule exposes it to certain exploitation by less well-meaning masters than ourselves. So nothing is done. If nothing is better than anything, then we are right. If anything is better than a grievance which leads to "a bad state of mind" out of which comes murder, then we are wrong. And meanwhile matters do not stand still. Out of a bad state of mind comes soon desregard of methods, and then follows quickly the end justifying every means. And then comes the long line of martyrs, the crepe-adorned, flower-strewn death-pale faces of conscientious men who followed their duty, only to be slain by other men, dark-browed, fanatic-hearted, bloody-handed men driven by a mad force madly--but to accomplish a not-mad end--self-rule.p. 308 (Christmas Eve musings in Canada again) But in Asia it is different. There the majority of people do not have comfortable homes, glowing hearth fires, happiness and material contentment, and they never have had. Their living, or their dying, means little by Asiatic values. But democracies do not have masses of people who do not matter, masses to be sacrificed safely to the enemy as cannon fodder; the password of democracy is that every man matters.New vocabulary to me...p.23 pulchritude The most attractive women in every gathering were Chinese. These were graceful, dainty, beautifully formed women, with porcelain skins and sparkling eyes, exquisitely gowned, carefully tinted, tastefully jeweled. Although by cinema standards they lacked the two movie-marks of female pulchritude, the remedy for this lack was displayed in all the shop windows thich now offered in profusion...p. 57 tiffin On this day Bob was sitting in the living room making notes for the coming film, and the household was quiet with the soundlessness which means the servants are all asleep and if you want anything done you'd better do it yourself. I left this peaceful scene to drive to the office and fetch Harry for tiffin.p. 126 procurer He always would get that taxi because he was sorry for the driver, Sing Fook San, who used to be a procurer but had reformed now and kept taxis instead.

  • Brynn
    2018-12-20 17:29

    Not as good as her first two Borneo books. And in this one, she betrays some of the prejudices of her times. Still, an engaging voice and I had to know what would become of her family after the war.