100 books like The White Rajahs of Sarawak

By Robert Payne,

Here are 100 books that The White Rajahs of Sarawak fans have personally recommended if you like The White Rajahs of Sarawak. Shepherd is a community of 11,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Land Below the Wind

Neill McKee Author Of Finding Myself in Borneo: Sojourns in Sabah

From my list on exotic Asian travel and adventure.

Why am I passionate about this?

My first travel memoir, Finding Myself in Borneo, has won three awards. I hold a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in Communication from Florida State University. I worked internationally for 45 years, becoming an expert in the field of communication for social change. I directed and produced a number of award-winning documentary films/videos, popular multimedia initiatives, and have written numerous articles and books in my field. I worked and lived in Asia, Africa, and Russia for a total of 18 years and traveled to over 80 countries on short-term assignments. In 2015, I settled in New Mexico, using my varied experiences, memories, and imagination in creative writing.

Neill's book list on exotic Asian travel and adventure

Neill McKee Why did Neill love this book?

This book gives readers a clear picture of what it was like for an American woman, married to a British colonial, to live in North Borneo just before the Japanese Army invaded in 1942. It was truly an innocent place so far from the cares of the world. I read it in 1968, just before my first sojourn in Sabah, Malaysia. Much had changed by then, but it helped me understand the experiences of some of the older people I met. Today, Sabah remains a land “below the wind” (located south of the annual tropical cyclone belt.) But, as I mention in my book, it is no longer below the “political storms” as China battles the US and five other nations over the rights to the South China Sea.

By Agnes Keith,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Land Below the Wind as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This book was written during an era when Sabah was known as North Borneo, and when life was very much different from today s. Reprinted many times, this classic, of Agnes Keith s observations and reflections of the time, is a true-to-life record of society and culture then and of the captivating natural beauty of Sabah. Today, Sabah continues to be known as the land below the wind , a phrase used by seafarers in the past to describe all the lands south of the typhoon belt, but which Agnes effectively reserved for Sabah through her book. One of few…


Book cover of The Last Wild Men of Borneo: A True Story of Death and Treasure

Golda Mowe Author Of Iban Journey

From my list on to experience life-changing adventures.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have been fascinated with travel and adventure stories since I read The Magic Faraway Tree by Enid Blyton. I finished a whole Walter Scott book; with a dictionary balanced on one knee because Jeanie Deans decides to walk from Edinburgh to London. Romance? Bah! Humbug! I’d rather journey into The Heart of Darkness, follow the hobbits to Mount Doom, or ride a sandworm with Paul Atreides. Show me a lone traveler thrown into the middle of an unfamiliar, confusing culture and you have my full attention. Naturally, when I started typing out my first manuscript, it just had to be a fantasy adventure about an Iban headhunter.

Golda's book list on to experience life-changing adventures

Golda Mowe Why did Golda love this book?

What must we treasure? That is the question that came to mind when I was reading this book. Is a vanishing lifestyle or a piece of indigenous art worth risking your life and reputation for? Two men – Bruno Manser and Michael Palmieri – dodged the draft then went on to live dangerously. These real-life Robinson Crusoe and Indiana Jones eventually made their way into the jungle of Borneo, where they tried to save for posterity what they believed was important to the history of human culture. Hoffman presents their stories in a riveting style that is perfect for adventure lovers.

By Carl Hoffman,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Last Wild Men of Borneo as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A 2019 EDGAR AWARDS NOMINEE (BEST FACT CRIME) • A BANFF MOUNTAIN BOOK AWARDS FINALIST

Two modern adventurers sought a treasure possessed by the legendary “Wild Men of Borneo.” One found riches. The other vanished forever into an endless jungle. Had he shed civilization—or lost his mind? Global headlines suspected murder. Lured by these mysteries, New York Times bestselling author Carl Hoffman journeyed to find the truth, discovering that nothing is as it seems in the world’s last Eden, where the lines between sinner and saint blur into one.

In 1984, Swiss traveler Bruno Manser joined an expedition to the…


Book cover of Ghost Train to the Eastern Star

Neill McKee Author Of Finding Myself in Borneo: Sojourns in Sabah

From my list on exotic Asian travel and adventure.

Why am I passionate about this?

My first travel memoir, Finding Myself in Borneo, has won three awards. I hold a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in Communication from Florida State University. I worked internationally for 45 years, becoming an expert in the field of communication for social change. I directed and produced a number of award-winning documentary films/videos, popular multimedia initiatives, and have written numerous articles and books in my field. I worked and lived in Asia, Africa, and Russia for a total of 18 years and traveled to over 80 countries on short-term assignments. In 2015, I settled in New Mexico, using my varied experiences, memories, and imagination in creative writing.

Neill's book list on exotic Asian travel and adventure

Neill McKee Why did Neill love this book?

When I retired from my 45-year career as an international filmmaker and multimedia producer, I decided to concentrate on creative nonfiction writing, using my experiences and memories as a basis for the many stories I wanted to tell. I began to read and listen to travel memoirs to learn how to write in a captivating and entertaining way. Paul Theroux is one of the top writers in this genre and Ghost Train to the Eastern Star is one of his best. He doesn’t make it to Borneo, but reaches many familiar places I traveled to during my years in Southeast Asia. I love his style, full of descriptions of those old haunts, and his dialog with the people he encounters on his journey.

By Paul Theroux,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Ghost Train to the Eastern Star as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Paul Theroux's Ghost Train to the Eastern Star is a journey from London to Asia by train.

Winner of the Stanford Dolman Lifetime Contribution to Travel Writing Award 2020

Thirty years ago Paul Theroux left London and travelled across Asia and back again by train. His account of the journey - The Great Railway Bazaar - was a landmark book and made his name as the foremost travel writer of his generation. Now Theroux makes the trip all over again. Through Eastern Europe, India and Asia to discover the changes that have swept the continents, and also to learn what…


Book cover of A Brief History of Bali: Piracy, Slavery, Opium and Guns: The Story of an Island Paradise

Neill McKee Author Of Finding Myself in Borneo: Sojourns in Sabah

From my list on exotic Asian travel and adventure.

Why am I passionate about this?

My first travel memoir, Finding Myself in Borneo, has won three awards. I hold a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in Communication from Florida State University. I worked internationally for 45 years, becoming an expert in the field of communication for social change. I directed and produced a number of award-winning documentary films/videos, popular multimedia initiatives, and have written numerous articles and books in my field. I worked and lived in Asia, Africa, and Russia for a total of 18 years and traveled to over 80 countries on short-term assignments. In 2015, I settled in New Mexico, using my varied experiences, memories, and imagination in creative writing.

Neill's book list on exotic Asian travel and adventure

Neill McKee Why did Neill love this book?

Bali is known as a peaceful Hindu "paradise” in Asia. But today most tourists are ignorant of its tumultuous history. In my book I travel by sea on a freighter from Singapore to Jakarta, and journey through Java to Bali. Before reading Hanna’s book, I too was largely ignorant of the invasions Bali had experienced before tourists came: centuries of domination by Muslim sultanates; then early 1800s, the Dutch alongside the French; then the British, followed by the Dutch again in 1816. Next, Bali’s people joined the fight for independence before Japan invaded in 1942. The Dutch returned in 1945, so back to the struggle for independence 1945-1949. Within Indonesia, Bali had to fight hard to maintain its Hindu religion and culture. A peaceful paradise?

By Willard A. Hanna,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Brief History of Bali as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This book tells the story of Bali--the "paradise island of the Pacific"--its rulers and its people, and their encounters with the Western world.

Bali is a perennially popular tourist destination. It is also home to a fascinating people with a long and dramatic history of interactions with foreigners, particularly after the arrival of the first Dutch fleet in 1597. In this first comprehensive history of Bali, author Willard Hanna chronicles Bali through the centuries as well as the islanders' current struggle to preserve their unique identity amidst the financially necessary incursions of tourism.

Illustrated with more than forty stunning photographs,…


Book cover of Idle Days in Patagonia

Conor Mark Jameson Author Of Finding W. H. Hudson: The Writer Who Came to Britain to Save the Birds

From my list on W. H. Hudson, in his own words.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am now a full-time author, and I worked for 25 years for the RSPB at Sandy and BirdLife in Cambridge. An oil painting of W. H. Hudson hangs above the fireplace of the house at Sandy – so he was a familiar face, like an ancestor about whom little is recalled and surprisingly little is ever said. I began to dabble in his books and got drawn in. I wanted to understand him and his female colleagues who created the organisation we know today and that has been such a big part of my life. I have a sense of repaying a debt.

Conor's book list on W. H. Hudson, in his own words

Conor Mark Jameson Why did Conor love this book?

I particularly enjoyed this book. Hudson’s ornithological expedition in this desolate wilderness was made partly ‘idle’ by the mishap he had when examining a faulty pistol, shooting himself in the knee.

He described his solitary confinement in a remote cabin while his sole companion went off to seek help. He shared his bed with a venomous snake, and was later ferried to hospital by bullock cart, a journey of many hours over rough terrain.

"My miserable journey ended at dawn at the Mission House. Later in the day, on awakening, I found myself in the hands of a gentleman who was a skilful surgeon as well as a divine. My bullet, however, refused to be extracted. Every morning for a fortnight my host, with a quiet smile on his lips, would present a succession of probes – oh those probes of all forms, sizes and materials: wood, ivory, steel and…

By William Henry Hudson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Idle Days in Patagonia as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This work has been selected by scholars as being culturally important, and is part of the knowledge base of civilization as we know it.

This work is in the "public domain in the United States of America, and possibly other nations. Within the United States, you may freely copy and distribute this work, as no entity (individual or corporate) has a copyright on the body of the work.

Scholars believe, and we concur, that this work is important enough to be preserved, reproduced, and made generally available to the public. We appreciate your support of the preservation process, and thank…


Book cover of Into the Heart of Borneo

Karen Gershowitz Author Of Wanderlust: Extraordinary People, Quirky Places, and Curious Cuisine

From my list on making you want to travel.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been traveling since age seventeen when I boarded a plane and headed to Europe on my own. Over the next three years I lived in London, took weekend jaunts across the continent, and became completely bitten by the travel bug. Since then, I’ve traveled to more than 95 countries. I’ve lost and gained friends and lovers and made a radical career change so that I could afford my travel addiction. Like my readers, I am an ordinary person. Through travel I’ve learned courage and risk-taking and succeeded at things I didn’t know I could do. My goal in writing is to inspire others to take off and explore the world.

Karen's book list on making you want to travel

Karen Gershowitz Why did Karen love this book?

What happens when an out-of-shape, stay-at-home book reviewer is talked into trekking into one of the most remote parts of the world?

Misadventures abound in the jungle, terrifying at the time but hilarious in retrospect. This is one of the books I use for inspiration when I am considering venturing into unusual, distant areas of the globe. It demonstrates that anyone with the will to do it can explore, survive, enjoy, and even see the humor in outrageous situations.

By Redmond O'Hanlon,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Into the Heart of Borneo as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The story of a 1983 journey to the center of Borneo, which no expedition had attempted since 1926. O'Hanlon, accompanied by friend and poet James Fenton and three native guides brings wit and humor to a dangerous journey.


Book cover of A Stroll Through Borneo

Judith M. Heimann Author Of The Most Offending Soul Alive: Tom Harrisson and His Remarkable Life

From my list on 20th Century Borneo.

Why am I passionate about this?

Judith M. Heimann grew up in New York City, where her father and both his brothers were newspapermen. She lived in Borneo in the mid-1960s with her American diplomat husband John Heimann, and their school-age children. In Borneo, she made lifelong friends of Tom Harrisson, his then-wife Barbara, and indigenous people she later wrote about. After a career in Europe, Asia, and Africa, as a US diplomat alongside her husband, in retirement she became a nonfiction writer and went back to Borneo several times to research her books, help on tv documentaries, and celebrate anniversaries of important wartime dates there; she still remembers the names of the people, the songs, the carvings and paintings, and especially the way the local people met her and her family more than halfway. 

Judith's book list on 20th Century Borneo

Judith M. Heimann Why did Judith love this book?

This book, by a well-born English friend of mine, was written when he was young and fancy free; he was then (in 1978) accurately described on the book jacket as a cheerful young man “who greets each new acquaintance and experience with enormous enthusiasm” as he makes his way alone, without fuss (while making local indigenous friends along the way) for five months through what was then one of the last remaining wild spots in the world. 

By James Barclay,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Stroll Through Borneo as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A Stroll Through Borneo [hardcover] Barclay, James [Mar 01, 1980]


Book cover of The Banana Tree at the Gate: A History of Marginal Peoples and Global Markets in Borneo

Carol J. Pierce Colfer Author Of The Longhouse of the Tarsier: Changing Landscapes, Gender and Well Being in Borneo

From my list on Indonesian life and policy.

Why am I passionate about this?

I worked in Indonesia much of the time between 1979 and 2009, with people living in forests. As an anthropologist, my work was initially ethnographic in nature, later linking such insights to policies relating to forests and people – as I worked at the Center for International Forestry Research in Bogor (1995 – the present). Although later in my career, I worked in forests all over the tropics, my real love remains with Indonesia, where I worked the longest and learned the most. My most recent research was in 2019, when I returned to the first community I studied ethnographically in 1979-80.

Carol's book list on Indonesian life and policy

Carol J. Pierce Colfer Why did Carol love this book?

This book builds on Dove’s longstanding involvement in research on Borneo and his in-depth knowledge of the history of agricultural and nontimber forest products there. His work shows how the people of Borneo have long been involved in international trade, alternately expanding and contracting their attention to rice production as other opportunities (high prices, high demand) wax and wane. His insights contributed to my own research, showing how longstanding and ubiquitous the international involvement I have seen has been.

By Michael R. Dove,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Banana Tree at the Gate as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The "Hikayat Banjar," a native court chronicle from Borneo, characterizes the irresistibility of natural resource wealth to outsiders as "the banana tree at the gate." Michael R. Dove employs this phrase as a root metaphor to frame the history of resource relations between the indigenous peoples of Borneo and the world system. In analyzing production and trade in forest products, pepper, and especially natural rubber, Dove shows that the involvement of Borneo's native peoples in commodity production for global markets is ancient and highly successful and that processes of globalization began millennia ago. Dove's analysis replaces the image of the…


Book cover of Through Formosa: An Account of Japan's Island Colony

John Grant Ross Author Of Formosan Odyssey: Taiwan, Past and Present

From my list on Taiwan and why you should visit.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a Kiwi who has spent most of the past three decades in Asia. My books include Formosan Odyssey, You Don't Know China, and Taiwan in 100 Books. I live in a small town in southern Taiwan with my Taiwanese wife. When not writing, reading, or lusting over maps, I can be found on the abandoned family farm slashing jungle undergrowth (and having a sly drink). 

John's book list on Taiwan and why you should visit

John Grant Ross Why did John love this book?

A delightful travelogue based on a brief trip Rutter made in the spring of 1921, from Kaohsiung up the west coast to Taipei. At that time, Taiwan was a Japanese colony and largely closed to tourists, and Through Formosa a rare glimpse. Rutter was an English colonial administrator and rubber planter in Borneo, so as well as typical travel descriptions of transport, accommodation, and sights, we also get informed opinions on matters such as how the Japanese colonial government was developing agriculture and trying to assimilate the aborigines. 

By Owen Rutter,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Through Formosa as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Excerpt from Through Formosa

About the Publisher

Forgotten Books publishes hundreds of thousands of rare and classic books.

This book is a reproduction of an important historical work. Forgotten Books uses state-of-the-art technology to digitally reconstruct the work, preserving the original format whilst repairing imperfections present in the aged copy. In rare cases, an imperfection in the original, such as a blemish or missing page, may be replicated in our edition. We do, however, repair the vast majority of imperfections successfully; any imperfections that remain are intentionally left to preserve the state of such historical works. This text has been…


Book cover of Key to the Highway

Sandi Logan Author Of Betrayed: The incredible untold inside story of the two most unlikely drug-running grannies in Australian history

From my list on life’s adventures featuring crime, drugs, and travel.

Why am I passionate about this?

I learned from a young age to question everything. The law always interested me, but I was an impatient high school graduate who instead completed a journalism cadetship in Sydney, Australia. I always loved police reporting and the ability to get inside the ‘real’ story where few others could. There is a certain pleasure observing the lives of (witting or unwitting) criminals and an element of “there by the grace…” too! I’ve always empathised with the underdog and the Drug Grannies were indeed just that. I believed there was more to their story. Earning their trust was important. I threw myself into their fight – more an activist than a journalist!

Sandi's book list on life’s adventures featuring crime, drugs, and travel

Sandi Logan Why did Sandi love this book?

Discovery of a mysterious blues harp/harmonica by Seaford's Kananook Creek takes Chris Hunter on a wild, musical odyssey through the Australian outback to Perth, India, Bangkok, Borneo, and Rio.

Richard Andrews’ debut novel is an exciting mixture of sci-fi, mysticism, and adventure notwithstanding the book’s lead character is a cynical journalist who pursues Canberra's suppressed esoteric secret in a fight against the Alt Right.

On the journey to self-discovery, Hunter’s reality morphs with mythological gods, heroes, and villains, manifested as bikers, prophets, gun runners, shady businessmen, neo-Nazis, and miners. Key to the Highway is in a way a “hero’s journey. Get your leathers on for this exciting motorcycle odyssey towards self-discovery; it’s certainly a wild ride!

By Richard Andrews,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Key to the Highway as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A cosmic motorbike fantasy and a magical blues harp take Chris Hunter on a wild, Orphic odyssey through the Australian Outback to Indonesia, India, Bangkok, Borneo and Rio. His reality morphs into a mythological world of gods and demons, manifested as bikers, prophets, gun runners, drug smugglers, shady businessmen and neo-Nazis. Empowered by an ancient esoteric secret, his journey to self-discovery climaxes in a battle with Alt-Right forces.


5 book lists we think you will like!

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