A Magnificently Rich Tome on Early Penang

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Penang – The Fourth Presidency of India 1805-1830, Volume One: Ships, Men and Mansions, by Mark Langdon. George Town: Areca Books. 2013.

There are several questions about the history of Penang that have bothered me for quite a while, satisfactory responses to which cannot be found in any Malaysian schoolbook. This is not strange, given how the significance of Penang has been played down since independence for nationalistic reasons, and how national history has successively been caricatured to serve narrow political agendas.

Knowing history in as much of its complexity as possible is a human entitlement. And by extension, political simplification of the past is therefore theft of a cruel kind since it seeks to hide information that holds profound meaning for all of us now living.


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