Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Osama's Death

I was debating whether or not to do a post on the celebrations surrounding Osama's death, but Phil's post has saved me the trouble. Read it here.

Monday, May 02, 2011

Culture Smart! Cambodia by Graham Saunders

(Book Review)

This was one of three books I bought on Cambodia in preparation for my trip out here. The other two were "Moon Handbooks: Cambodia" and "Lonely Planet: Cambodia."

Both of those other books, although extremely useful, were more reference books, and not the kind of thing you would read straight through.
"Culture Smart! Cambodia" may not be very big, but it is easily possible to read it all the way through. And so I'm reviewing it on this book review project.

As someone who, so far, knows little to nothing about Cambodian culture, I can't comment on the accuracy of the information contained within this book. So I'll have to contain my comments to peripheral issues such as the readability.

It's a bit on the dry side, actually. I wouldn't go as far to say it's poorly written (everything is easy to understand) but it's not well written. Compared to the warm friendly writing style of "The Lonely Planet" guide (which really sucks you in) this is written in a rather boring way. The author is trying to convey a lot of information to you in a short amount of space, but you get the feeling he's not really enjoying what he's doing, and that this is just another chore for him.

Several times when reading this book, I would come to the end of the page, and then realize I had been so bored by what I had been reading that I hadn't absorbed any of the information, and then go have to go back to the top and start again. (Fortunately the pages are pretty small.)

The author's page also contains an interesting biography.

"Graham Saunders has a Ph.D in East Asian studies from the University of Hull, England. An Australian by birth, he spent twenty-eight years teaching in East Malaysia and Brunei, and has made numerous visits to the countries of the region, including Cambodia."

Oh, well, thank goodness they were able to find someone who at least dropped by from time to time.
Given what a large expat community there is in Cambodia, I'm surprised they didn't get someone who had at least lived in the country.

On the plus side: the book is small, portable, and (assuming you don't get bored by it) can be read in a very short time. It covers all sorts of relevant topics very succinctly, so it's excellent to use as a crash course on Cambodia. Which I guess is all you really expect from a book like this anyway.

Link of the Day
The Chomsky Sessions - Education and Economics