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William Warren's writings on Asia have entertained and informed readers all over the world for 40 years. As he says, 'Even as a child, I preferred the unusual to the ordinary, the little-known to the familiar; and such inclinations remained with me as I grew up, determining what sort of books I particularly enjoyed, the places I wanted most to visit, and, after I started writing, the subjects that kost appealed to me.' The essays in this book, all of them about Asia and collected here for the first time, are linked by a taste for oddity and romance.

Their subjects range from Anna Leonowens - generally known as the sugar-sweet heroine of The King and I, but revealed here as a somewhat different Anna, less appealing but more interesting - to the significance of amulets and of shrines, Asian women, cobra as a gastronomic treat, the myth surrounding Jim Thompson, and the truth behind some of the Asian writings of Somerset Maugham - to name just a few.

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