"A chain of racial purity seems both silly and irrelevant, in the light of evidence of vast movements of peoples over thousands of years across vast territories."

One of the unfortunate realities that seems to plague every human society is racism. While darker skinned races have often suffered from prejudice in nations with a white majority, lighter skinned people have frequently experienced discrimination in countries where the dominant ethnic group is darker in color. The author, in writing about his many years of living in Australia, notes that as the nation has become more multicultural some of the overt racism has diminished in his adopted country. Yet he still remembers the days when in-your-face discrimination was the norm rather than the exception.

The author, a third generation Malayan with Ceylonese roots, grew up in a society made up of many different cultures. While prejudice existed in this environment it was often more subtly expressed due to the sheer necessity of living and working alongside others of different ethnic and religious backgrounds. However, when he first moved to Australia it was still predominantly a white-dominated country, and he experienced firsthand many occasions when the discriminatory attitudes of the majority affected either him or people he knew. His career path within the Australian government only served to further expose him to ethnic issues as he worked in the areas of immigration and citizenship.

Much of what makes this book so effective is the wealth of personal stories that the author weaves into his narrative. Yet his reflections have more depth than those found in most memoirs, as he probes not only the issues of racism, multiculturalism, and related governmental policies but also religion and why we treat others the way we do. The result is a thought-provoking yet entertaining read.

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