A History of Kuala Lumpur 1856-1939

A History of Kuala Lumpur 1856-1939

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The meteoric ascent of Kuala Lumpur from a mere inland mining centre to the administrative capital of the Federated Malay States receives masterly treatment at the hands of John Gullick, the indefatigable chronicler of Malayan modern history. Gullick's account of the historical development of Kuala Lumpur is a natural companion to his History of Selangor 1766-1939, published in 2004, and as far as possible should be read together, for the latter provides an illuminating foil without which one's understanding of the organic development of Kuala Lumpur would be incomplete, as Kuala Lumpur had originally been part of Selangor and had, in fact, become its state capital from 1880 onwards.

Opting for a characteristically placid narrative style - carefully avoiding the lumber of historical jargon and complicated theories - Gullick proceeds to examine various aspects of Kuala Lumpur history through a number of broad themes chronologically ordered. The reader is taken from the first opening lines on a fascinating odyssey of the capital's rise from humble and turbulent beginnings in the middle of the 19th century to its pre-eminent position as the socioeconomic and political hub of Malaya on the eve of the Second World War.

Almost nothing escapes Gullick's meticulous scrutiny, from the construction of roads, bridges, stately public buildings and parks to amusing anecdotes about the great and the good, presented objectively and without a hint of bias or priggish self-censorship. Gullick intersperses his account throughout with a judicious selection of excerpts from rare sources otherwise difficult to obtain in the form of long-forgotten articles, memoirs, private journals and letters. The inclusion of Appendix A - reproduced verbatim from excerpts of a 1954 special supplement in the Malay Mail - in the form of recollections of Edith Stratton Brown and Basil Joaquim of early Kuala Lumpur is especially valuable.

Gullick's book describes Kuala Lumpur's changing physical, cultural and social setting, and the emergence of new business undertakings, health regulations, and recreational facilities. Readers will be treated to a thoroughly detailed account of early efforts to lay out the city, the expansion of the city's limits from what is currently Chinatown to the area around the Selangor Secretariat buildings which became the heart of the federal capital, and beyond. Drawing on personal memoirs, archival sources and published accounts, Gullick documents how each of the local community - Malay, Chinese, Indian and others - developed a strong interlinking network and responded to the remarkable forces which transformed Kuala Lumpur into a thriving urban settlement within a few decades of its existence.


A History of Kuala Lumpur 1856-1939
By J.M. Gullick
264pp. Size: 155x230mm. Softcover

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