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Topic: Travel back to Colonial Borneo

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Subject: Travel back to Colonial Borneo
Date Posted: 8/30/2009 5:14 AM ET
Member Since: 8/9/2009
Posts: 18
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A couple of years ago, while living in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, my book club read the trilogy of memoirs written by Agnes Keith: Land Below the Wind , Three Came Home, and White Man Returns.

Agnes Keith was a remarkable woman: She graduated from UCLA in the 1930's and began a promising career as a journalist. A random act of violence left her brain damaged. After several years of recovery, she met and fell in love with Harry Keith, a British forestry agent. Immediately after marrying, they headed for Borneo. In Land Below the Wind, she writes light heartedly of her life as the wife of a colonial government official. (THIS BOOK IS ON MY BOOKSHELF!)

In 1942, Borneo was invaded by the Japanese. Keith, along with the other 80 European residents, was taken into captivity along with her preschool aged son. They were held captive for more than three years. Keith kept hidden notes of the experience and, following her release, published Three Came Home. The book was eventually made into a famous movie, starring Claudette Cobert.

White Man Returns chronicles Keith's return to post-war Borneo, documenting not only her recovery but the dramatic changes that had befallen her family and the residents of Borneo.

I highly recommend all three books. Land Below the Wind is often difficult to find in the United States but, luckily, it is available right now from my bookshelf. Three Came Home is easier to find and is a great read even if you can't find the other two!


Last Edited on: 8/30/09 2:15 PM ET - Total times edited: 2