Just a minute
1. The three authors - Willie Cheng, Sharifah Mohamed and Cheryl Tang - have done their 13 chosen heroes justice with well-written accounts of these heroes' lives and causes.
2. The authors' style is to let the facts speak for themselves, which is effective because, one, the reader does not sense that they are pushing any agenda - important for a book featuring particular causes - and two, it is effective in helping the dire facts sink into one's consciousness.
3. They have had a careful regard for diversity in choosing who and what to feature; although there are four journalists among the 13 heroes. They have been rigorous in narrowing down the main social issues bedevilling each Asian country, by asking trusted people in each country what these were, and who in their country best acted to address them. The authors have been mindful of a balanced representation of men and women.
4. This book is an excellent snapshot of 12 Asian countries and their circumstances and challenges. The authors provide good and succinct background information on each country and also gave context to the social causes championed by each hero. There are diagrams to illustrate some of the more pronounced problems, for example, the nifty graph on ageing Japan on page 98. All of which makes Doing Good Great a go-to primer on the state of Asian society today.
1. The map on page four is superfluous. In a book featuring Asians, presumably meant largely for Asians and published in Asia, why is there a need to show the reader where each featured country is in the region and where each hero hails from?
2. The authors have given their heroes uneven treatment in the narrative. While they say they did not intend this book to be a collection of biographies, the reader will find some chapters biographical, while others barely scratch the surface of the hero's character. This sometimes engaging, sometimes remote narrative rhythm can be dissatisfying.
1. The authors interviewed all but one of the heroes face to face. It is surprising, then, that so little of each hero's voice comes through in the accounts. This makes the book more tell than show, which is not the best way to persuade the reader of one's cause.
FIVE QUESTIONS THIS BOOK ANSWERS
1. Why is poverty still so endemic in Asia?
2. Where should you begin if you want to help the poor?
3. How might you best translate compassion into action?
4. What are the main and persistent challenges to helping Asians?
5. How far have Asians to go in shaping a kinder, gentler world?
Why lie low in silos?
Most who work have long been urged by their bosses to collaborate with others, especially with those who are not one's immediate colleagues in the organisation. Yet, self-interest and self- preservation have cemented what British journalist Gillian Tett calls The Silo Effect.
Join senior writer Cheong Suk-Wai at this month's Big Read Meet to ponder the points highlighted in Tett's book.
The gathering is at 6.30pm on Dec 30 in the Central Public Library at Basement 1, National Library Board headquarters, 100 Victoria Street.
Sign up at any NLB e-Kiosk or click on www.nlb.gov.sg/ golibrary, look for The Big Read Meet and follow the steps there.
If you cannot make it but want to share your views on The Silo Effect, e-mail your thoughts in no more than 100 words to email@example.com. We will publish the best contributions on The Big Read page.