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Mike Park Ltd

Harrisson, Tom, World Within a Borneo Story

Harrisson, Tom World Within - a Borneo Story , Sabah: Opus Publications, 2008.

9789833987276 (1959 - reprinted 2008). Illustrated, pp xiv, 349, a very good copy in dustwrapper. [It is sometimes said, and often thought, that everything a writer writes is at least in part autobiographical. Even though Tom Harrisson wrote, at his peak, about 8,000 words a day, his ego was big enough and his interests wide enough so that most of what he wrote did, indeed, contain something personal and particular about himself. Yet, of all his published writings, World Within comes nearest to being his autobiography. In it, he shamelessly exposes his deepest fears and failings but also showcases his greatest love affair, between himself and the people of inland Borneo. It is pointed out errors that appear here and there in the first half of the book, the part that attempts to describe the Kelabit tribes-people of Sarawak in the time he knew them, illuminated by their past as he understood it. The second half of World Within tells more about the author himself and about how and why he got to Borneo and what happened then. In this portion of the book, the main story-within-the-story is of his leading the first successful guerilla operation in Borneo against the Japanese from behind their lines in the last year of World War II. Some critics have claimed that this military adventure story suffers from Harrisson’s well-known penchant for bragging and blowing his own horn. But my twelve years of research leading to my own books on the subject confirm that his account is as truthful as he could make it and that the extraordinary accomplishments he claims for the SEMUT 1 unit he led are not at all exaggerated. He dictated World Within to a typist in London, composing it without any of his notes, which were on the other side of the world. This has led to occasional inaccuracies but has also helped give the book the narrative impulse that one would experience sitting and listening to the recollections and opinions of a fascinating man. Above all, this is a passionate book by a man who focused much of his astounding energy on a place he loved as he loved no other, Borneo, and on its people, who made him the great gift of accepting him for who he was, in all his strength and weakness. (Book ref. 004719 )  £ 25.00

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