"The Wisdom Within Earl Derr Biggers' Charlie Chan" is a collection of 175 aphorisms found inside the six Charlie Chan novels by author Earl Derr Biggers. This collection differentiates between the original aphorisms of literature and those from 44 films made between 1931 - 1949. Most readers likely never realized the author often borrowed words of wisdom from ancient philosophers: Buddha, Confucius, Jesus, Lao-Tzu and the I Ching. He expertly wove them within his prose to bring deeper insight and meaning. Contrary to this, the movie maxims were written—or rewritten—by scriptwriters and did not serve the same purpose. Hollywood often produced their own fortune-cookie style wisecracks for film having quite the opposite effect as the literature.
In writing his six Charlie Chan novels, Earl Derr Biggers was among the first to publicly combat the Anti-Chinese sentiment of the time. While most recall Detective Charlie Chan's words of wisdom, the public was also drawn in – perhaps unconsciously – by the detective's constant battle against racism and xenophobia. At the time, no other fictional detective had that challenge. Biggers novels did not include bumbling sons numbers 1 or 2 to assist or subservient African American characters like the films. And the author's original version of Detective Charlie Chan did not sport that Fu Manchu-style mustache. "Wisdom Within" brings these facts to light, while identifying the author's original aphorisms spoken through one of the world's most recognized fictional characters.