FRANK Welsh's comprehensive history of Hong Kong - hailed as the first accessible single-volume history of the territory - has been released in paperback. A History of Hong Kong (HarperCollins $170) begins with the Treaty of Nanking in 1842 and ends with the beginning of the Patten era. In between it vividly covers the events and the people who shaped this unique land, from the Japanese occupation in 1941 to scandals over drugs, corruption and prostitution and the ''highly visible disparity between rich and poor''. Another book that warrants a place among any Asiaphile's collection is Two Cities (Picador $102), Neil Sheehan's tribute to Hanoi and Saigon. He came to know the cities well as a reporter covering the United States' disastrous engagement in Vietnam. The author of the Pulitzer-prize winner A Bright Shining Lie vowed to go back when the country was at peace. When he did, in 1989, he found a country still reeling from the war. Turning Japanese (HarperCollins $84) by Tim Jackson, is subtitled The Fight for Industrial Control of the New Europe. Jackson examines Japan's daunting strengths and asks if European business can survive another onslaught from Asia's dragon economies. On the fictional front, Michael Crichton's Disclosure (Arrow $60) is now available in paperback. Thomas Sanders' world collapses when he is passed over for promotion and his woman boss accuses him of sexually harassing her. Truth is stranger than fiction if the contents of Beyond the Impossible (Warner $102) are to be believed. Richard Lazarus' compendium tries to explain the unexplained, from ghostly reruns of World War II battles to strange happenings after the discovery of Tutankhamun's tomb in 1923. It concludes that the spontaneous combustion of some human beings might be due to huge magnetic forces which we do not yet fully understand. The green-fingered and the environmentally green might be interested in The Flower Arranging Expert (Expert $85) and The Last Green Book on Earth? (Red Fox $51). The former is by Dr D G Hessayon and is one in a series of gardening books. The latter, by Judy Allen and Martin Brown, is a no-holds-barred look at the mess human beings have made of our planet. Two new paperbacks attempt to lift the lid off Hollywood. Merchant of Dreams (Pan $119) by Charles Higham, is a biography of Louis B Mayer, the son of a penniless Russian immigrant who became the most powerful and wealthy film tycoon in Tinseltown. Alexander Walker's Vivien (Orion $72) is a look at the life of Vivien Leigh whose beauty was matched only be her wilfulness. ''I will play Scarlett O'Hara,'' she said before auditioning for Gone with the Wind. Later she said of Laurence Olivier: ''I will marry him''. And she did.