Preface to the Second Edition (2014)

from Formosan Odyssey: Taiwan Past and Present, by John Ross

book cover of Formosan Odyssey: Taiwan Past and Present

The original has long been out-of-print, so I’m delighted to finally offer readers this second edition of Formosan Odyssey. It’s a much-improved version, with errors corrected and the writing tightened up. I’ve deleted a few dated references and added an afterword. The alterations, though, have not included the use of hindsight to rewrite my opinions; I’ve kept the tone of the original, even if at times the younger me now sounds a touch naïve.

Getting this edition ready has been fun. I hadn’t reread the book since 2002. Late at night after a bottle or two I would occasionally pull a copy from a shelf and peruse a few pages, but never from beginning to end. What struck me on rereading the whole book was the exuberance. Yes, I was younger and Taiwan was newer to me, but I hope there’s something more to it than that; perhaps my early years here were also an especially exuberant time for Taiwan, or perhaps it reflects the excitement of discovery of the pre-Internet world, a time when stumbling upon a rare book was like a feast for the famished, a time when what lay beyond the hill held more mystery. The Internet (which I started using tentatively only in 2001) has completely changed expat life, travel, and the writing process. But above everything, I think the exuberance comes from the story of Taiwan itself being so immensely fascinating. And as packed as Formosan Odyssey is with colourful facets of Taiwan’s culture and history, it is merely a taster. I hope this new edition encourages you to further explore this lovely island.

Camphor Press, which specializes in quality English-language e-books about Taiwan and China, has published a second edition (2014) of Formosan Odyssey: Taiwan Past and Present. The Kindle edition is also available through Amazon.