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Marine biologist F.D. Ommaney, who has done research in the Antarctic and completed fishery surveys through both the Indian Ocean and China Seas, now leaves the world of scientific data, (such as he presented in two previous works), to look out from three particular ""windows"", Singapore, Tokyo and Hong Kong, in order to give us a provocative and evocative, if a bit parochial, view of the Far Fast. In point of fact, it's all more or less like the New Yorker Reporter At Large pieces: tangy, humorous, intelligent, homey, exotic, and underplayed. Britisher Ommaney has lived in the East seven years; by and large he likes the surroundings, understands the society and finds the people good company and good copy. He ranges from Sino zenophobia to American naivete; he has a sharp an eye for a Bugis street scene with its intricate dazzle and filth, as for capturing the characteristics of shopkeepers and schoolboys, or, during, a Malayan festival, spotting the tough Gurka soldiers dressed an maidens- a national custom, it seems. He knows Hindu legends, artificial pearl-making, Ginza night life; he is capable of an affecting Changi village reminiscence, a biting appraisal of Singapore's ""progressive"" change, and a cool-headed, neatly muted defense of colonial rule. His Straits of Malacca expedition is exciting, his Hong Kong descriptions vivid. There is no really engaging personality or point of view behind all this, but that's something which is at a premium in travel books; for its genre, Windows shines brightly.

Pub Date: Sept. 29th, 1961
Publisher: Doubleday