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A Modern History of Hong Kong

By Steve Tsang

From a little-known fishing community at the periphery of China, Hong Kong developed into one of the world's most spectacular and cosmopolitan cities after a century and a half of British imperial rule.

The history of Hong Kong, from its occupation by the British in 1841 to its return to Chinese sovereignty in 1997, is a fascinating story + Read More..
From a little-known fishing community at the periphery of China, Hong Kong developed into one of the world's most spectacular and cosmopolitan cities after a century and a half of British imperial rule.

The history of Hong Kong, from its occupation by the British in 1841 to its return to Chinese sovereignty in 1997, is a fascinating story of East meeting West. This book addresses the changing relations between the local Chinese and expatriate communities in 156 years of British rule, and the emergence of a local identity.

It explains the importance of China as a factor in its development and the origins of the so-called "1997 problems," thus analyzing the underlying reasons for the rise of a liberal society committed to the rule of law without democracy.
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Crazy Rich Asians

By Kevin Kwan

When New Yorker Rachel Chu agrees to spend the summer in Singapore with her boyfriend, Nicholas Young, she envisions a humble family home and quality time with the man she hopes to marry. But Nick has failed to give his girlfriend a few key details. One, that his childhood home looks like a palace; two, that he grew + Read More..
When New Yorker Rachel Chu agrees to spend the summer in Singapore with her boyfriend, Nicholas Young, she envisions a humble family home and quality time with the man she hopes to marry. But Nick has failed to give his girlfriend a few key details. One, that his childhood home looks like a palace; two, that he grew up riding in more private planes than cars; and three, that he just happens to be the country’s most eligible bachelor.

On Nick’s arm, Rachel may as well have a target on her back the second she steps off the plane, and soon, her relaxed vacation turns into an obstacle course of old money, new money, nosy relatives, and scheming social climbers.

“A dizzily shopaholic comedy. . . . Wickedly delectable. . . . Offers refreshing nouveau voyeurism to readers who long ago burned out on American and English aspirational fantasies. . . . Hilarious.” The New York Times
$10.00
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Emperors Once More

By Duncan Jepson

Prior to turning to writing, Duncan Jepson made his career as an award-winning filmmaker. His debut novel, All the Flowers in Shanghai, was praised by Kirkus Reviews as being "strong on detail and emotional intensity. In Emperors Once More, Jepson has created a thriller that captures the sights and sounds of Hong Kong and propels the reader into + Read More..
Prior to turning to writing, Duncan Jepson made his career as an award-winning filmmaker. His debut novel, All the Flowers in Shanghai, was praised by Kirkus Reviews as being "strong on detail and emotional intensity. In Emperors Once More, Jepson has created a thriller that captures the sights and sounds of Hong Kong and propels the reader into the world of international financial intrigue.

Senior Inspector Alex Soong of the Hong Kong police is a contradictory character: a student of traditional martial arts and Chinese history, he drives an imported Mustang, loves American jazz, and is married to a beautiful, high-maintenance wife, Jun, who cannot understand why he doesn't take a more highly paid and prestigious job.

On the same day as he is drafted in to help Inspector Mike De Suza with the investigation of the motiveless murder of two Chinese Methodists in the financial district, the police are tipped off to an apparently unrelated murder in a deserted Kowloon warehouse: five people dead in a scene of horror which echoes the ritualistic killings of the Boxer Rebellion, a century before. As the first officer on the scene, Alex is shocked to be greeted by the concealed perpetrator, and invited to join him in reasserting China's global supremacy. After dismissing this and a second approach, he recruits historian Professor Elizabeth Yi to help him research the cases' parallels with the Boxer killings.

With Hong Kong about to host an economic summit between the Chinese and the faltering G8 powers who are massively in debt to them--the same Western powers who allied successfully against China in the days of the Boxers--the stage is set for an explosive rewriting of history. When Alex will not join the shadowy conspirators seeking to manipulate public opinion against the West, they seize his wife and the professor. He is forced to run a desperate race against time that will lead him into the pitiless heart of the ancient conspiracy, and pit him against the final ruthless stage of its campaign to alter the balance of power between East and West forever.

“A high-octane mystery . . . an ambitious and high-minded thriller that challenges the reader to consider the impact of the past on the West’s future relationship with China.” South China Morning Post
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Fragrant Harbor

By John Lanchester

It is 1935 and Tom Stewart, a young Englishman with an almost visceral longing for adventure, has bought himself a cheap ticket to the complex, corrupt, and corrupting world of Hong Kong. Aboard ship, he becomes the pawn in a wager between a bluff businessman and a Chinese missionary nun, who bets she can teach him Cantonese on + Read More..
It is 1935 and Tom Stewart, a young Englishman with an almost visceral longing for adventure, has bought himself a cheap ticket to the complex, corrupt, and corrupting world of Hong Kong. Aboard ship, he becomes the pawn in a wager between a bluff businessman and a Chinese missionary nun, who bets she can teach him Cantonese on the six-week voyage out. What begins as friendship turns into solace and then a passion that only individual vows can remit.

Fragrant Harbor takes the reader from the intrigue and double-dealing of the 1930s through the savagery of the Japanese occupation to contemporary Hong Kong, crossroads of international trade and finance and waystation for laundering the dirty money of warlords, drug runners, and Chinese triads. The novel ends three years after the Mainland takeover, with Hong Kong as greedy, corrupt, and corrupting as when Stewart first landed there.

Writing with the same fine style and observant eye that distinguished his previous novels, John Lanchester depicts a tumultuous time and place and then peoples it with extraordinary characters. The result is a novel that proves he is amongour most versatile and talented contemporary novelists-indeed, as The New York Times wrote, "Lanchester is a commanding writer."
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Ghetto at the Center of the World: Chungking Mansions, Hong Kong

By Gordon Mathews

There is nowhere else in the world quite like Chungking Mansions, a dilapidated seventeen-story commercial and residential structure in the heart of Hong Kong’s tourist district. A remarkably motley group of people call the building home; Pakistani phone stall operators, Chinese guesthouse workers, Nepalese heroin addicts, Indonesian sex workers, and traders and asylum seekers from all over Asia + Read More..
There is nowhere else in the world quite like Chungking Mansions, a dilapidated seventeen-story commercial and residential structure in the heart of Hong Kong’s tourist district. A remarkably motley group of people call the building home; Pakistani phone stall operators, Chinese guesthouse workers, Nepalese heroin addicts, Indonesian sex workers, and traders and asylum seekers from all over Asia and Africa live and work there—even backpacking tourists rent rooms. In short, it is possibly the most globalized spot on the planet.

But as Ghetto at the Center of the World shows us, a trip to Chungking Mansions reveals a far less glamorous side of globalization. A world away from the gleaming headquarters of multinational corporations, Chungking Mansions is emblematic of the way globalization actually works for most of the world’s people. Gordon Mathews’s intimate portrayal of the building’s polyethnic residents lays bare their intricate connections to the international circulation of goods, money, and ideas. We come to understand the day-to-day realities of globalization through the stories of entrepreneurs from Africa carting cell phones in their luggage to sell back home and temporary workers from South Asia struggling to earn money to bring to their families. And we see that this so-called ghetto—which inspires fear in many of Hong Kong’s other residents, despite its low crime rate—is not a place of darkness and desperation but a beacon of hope.

Gordon Mathews’s compendium of riveting stories enthralls and instructs in equal measure, making Ghetto at the Center of the World not just a fascinating tour of a singular place but also a peek into the future of life on our shrinking planet.


"Hong Kong's Chungking Mansions is the most notorious flophouse in Asia. . . . The shabby tenement is today as much about global commerce as tourism. What the building should be renowned for, argues Gordon Mathews in his fluid and enjoyable field study "Ghetto at the Center of the World", is the ingenious way 'low-end globalists' eke out profits from petit arbitrage. . . . It reads like a first-rate business book." Wall Street Journal
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Gweilo: Memories of a Hong Kong Childhood

By Martin Booth

Evocative, funny and full of life, this is a beautifully observed childhood memoir of growing up in colonial Hong Kong in the 1950s.

As an inquisitive seven-year-old, Martin Booth found himself with the whole of Hong Kong at his feet when his father was posted there in the early 1950s. Unrestricted by parental control, he had free access to + Read More..
Evocative, funny and full of life, this is a beautifully observed childhood memoir of growing up in colonial Hong Kong in the 1950s.

As an inquisitive seven-year-old, Martin Booth found himself with the whole of Hong Kong at his feet when his father was posted there in the early 1950s. Unrestricted by parental control, he had free access to hidden corners of the colony normally closed to a Gweilo, a “pale fellow” like him. Befriending rickshaw coolies and local stallholders, he learned Cantonese, sampled delicacies such as boiled water beetles and one-hundred-year-old eggs, and participated in colourful festivals. He even entered the forbidden Kowloon Walled City, wandered into the secret lair of the Triads and visited an opium den. Along the way he encountered a colourful array of people, from the plink plonk man with his dancing monkey to Nagasaki Jim, a drunken child molester, and the Queen of Kowloon, the crazed tramp who may have been a member of the Romanov family.

Shadowed by the unhappiness of his warring parents, a broad-minded mother who, like her son, was keen to embrace all things Chinese, and a bigoted father who was enraged by his family’s interest in “going native,” Martin Booth’s compelling memoir is a journey into Chinese culture and an extinct colonial way of life that glows with infectious curiosity and humour.

“[Gweilo] stands as one of the most original and engaging memoirs of recent years, all the more telling because it is so personal, witty and true. Booth has delivered a pre-coming-of-age book that ranks with the best of the breed.” The Times
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Hong Kong

By Jan Morris

In its last days under British rule, the Crown Colony of Hong Kong is the world’s most exciting city, at once fascinating and exasperating, a tangle of contradictions. It is a dazzling amalgam of conspicuous consumption and primitive poverty, the most architecturally incongruous yet undeniably beautiful urban panorama of all.

World renowned travel writer Jan Morris offers the most + Read More..
In its last days under British rule, the Crown Colony of Hong Kong is the world’s most exciting city, at once fascinating and exasperating, a tangle of contradictions. It is a dazzling amalgam of conspicuous consumption and primitive poverty, the most architecturally incongruous yet undeniably beautiful urban panorama of all.

World renowned travel writer Jan Morris offers the most insightful and comprehensive study of the enigma of Hong Kong thus far.
$10.00
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Hong Kong Action Cinema

By BEY LOGAN

From the dazzling choreography of martial arts movies to the gore of the "heroic bloodshed" genre, Hong Kong action films are masterpieces of style and fury, and a prime source of inspiration for Hollywood.

Tracing the background of this enticing film genre from the influences of Chinese opera to the mixture of fantasy and fast-paced action of the + Read More..
From the dazzling choreography of martial arts movies to the gore of the "heroic bloodshed" genre, Hong Kong action films are masterpieces of style and fury, and a prime source of inspiration for Hollywood.

Tracing the background of this enticing film genre from the influences of Chinese opera to the mixture of fantasy and fast-paced action of the present day style, this is essential reading for both the intrigued layman and the die-hard Hong Kong fan. Photos, 95 in color.
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Kowloon Tong: A Novel of Hong Kong

By Paul Theroux

Ninety-nine years of colonial rule are ending as the British prepare to hand over Hong Kong to China. For Betty Mullard and her son, Bunt, it doesn't concern them - until the mysterious Mr. Hung from the mainland offers them a large sum for their family business. They refuse, yet fail to realize Mr. Hung is unlike the + Read More..
Ninety-nine years of colonial rule are ending as the British prepare to hand over Hong Kong to China. For Betty Mullard and her son, Bunt, it doesn't concern them - until the mysterious Mr. Hung from the mainland offers them a large sum for their family business. They refuse, yet fail to realize Mr. Hung is unlike the Chinese they've known: he will accept no refusals.

When a young female employee whom Bunt has been dating vanishes, he is forced to make important decisions for the first time in his life - but his good intentions are pitted against the will of Mr. Hung and the threat of the ultimate betrayal.


"A moody thriller . . . cleverly, tightly constructed, fast-paced." The New York Times
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Love in a Fallen City

By Eileen Chang

New York Review Books Classics

Eileen Chang is one of the great writers of twentieth-century China, where she enjoys a passionate following both on the mainland and in Taiwan. At the heart of Chang’s achievement is her short fiction—tales of love, longing, and the shifting and endlessly treacherous shoals of family life.

Written when Chang was still in her twenties, + Read More..
New York Review Books Classics

Eileen Chang is one of the great writers of twentieth-century China, where she enjoys a passionate following both on the mainland and in Taiwan. At the heart of Chang’s achievement is her short fiction—tales of love, longing, and the shifting and endlessly treacherous shoals of family life.

Written when Chang was still in her twenties, these extraordinary stories combine an unsettled, probing, utterly contemporary sensibility, keenly alert to sexual politics and psychological ambiguity, with an intense lyricism that echoes the classics of Chinese literature.

Love in a Fallen City, the first collection in English of this dazzling body of work, introduces American readers to the stark and glamorous vision of a modern master.

“[A] giant of modern Chinese literature” The New York Times

"With language as sharp as a knife edge, Eileen Chang cut open a huge divide in Chinese culture, between the classical patriarchy and our troubled modernity. She was one of the very few able truly to connect that divide, just as her heroines often disappeared inside it. She is the fallen angel of Chinese literature, and now, with these excellent new translations, English readers can discover why she is so revered by Chinese readers everywhere." Ang Lee
$10.00
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Noble House (James Clavell’s Asian Saga)

By James Clavell

Book 5/6 in the Asian Saga Series

The setting is Hong Kong, 1963. The action spans scarcely more than a week, but these are days of high adventure: from kidnapping and murder to financial double-dealing and natural catastrophes–fire, flood, landslide. Yet they are days filled as well with all the mystery and romance of Hong Kong–the heart of Asia–rich + Read More..
Book 5/6 in the Asian Saga Series

The setting is Hong Kong, 1963. The action spans scarcely more than a week, but these are days of high adventure: from kidnapping and murder to financial double-dealing and natural catastrophes–fire, flood, landslide. Yet they are days filled as well with all the mystery and romance of Hong Kong–the heart of Asia–rich in every trade…money, flesh, opium, power.

"The last time I was so taken with a spellbinding safari was when I read Gone With The Wind." Los Angeles Times.
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Old Filth (Old Filth Trilogy)

By Jane Gardam

Book 1/3 in the Old Filth Trilogy

Sir Edward Feathers has had a brilliant career, from his early days as a lawyer in Southeast Asia, where he earned the nickname Old Filth (FILTH being an acronym for Failed In London Try Hong Kong) to his final working days as a respected judge at the English bar. Yet through it + Read More..
Book 1/3 in the Old Filth Trilogy

Sir Edward Feathers has had a brilliant career, from his early days as a lawyer in Southeast Asia, where he earned the nickname Old Filth (FILTH being an acronym for Failed In London Try Hong Kong) to his final working days as a respected judge at the English bar. Yet through it all he has carried with him the wounds of a difficult and emotionally hollow childhood.

Now an eighty-year-old widower living in comfortable seclusion in Dorset, Feathers is finally free from the regimen of work and the sentimental scaffolding that has sustained him throughout his life. He slips back into the past with ever mounting frequency and intensity, and on the tide of these vivid, lyrical musings, Feathers approaches a reckoning with his own history. Not all the old filth, it seems, can be cleaned away.

Borrowing from biography and history, Jane Gardam has written a literary masterpiece reminiscent of Rudyard Kipling's Baa Baa, Black Sheep that retraces much of the twentieth century's torrid and momentous history. Feathers' childhood in Malaya during the British Empire's heyday, his schooling in pre-war England, his professional success in Southeast Asia and his return to England toward the end of the millennium, are vantage points from which the reader can observe the march forward of an eventful era and the steady progress of that man, Sir Edward Feathers, Old Filth himself, who embodies the century's fate.

"This mordantly funny novel examines the life of Sir Edward Feathers, a desiccated barrister known to colleagues and friends as Old Filth. After a lucrative career in Asia, Filth settles into retirement in Dorset. With anatomical precision, Gardam reveals that, contrary to appearances, Sir Edward's life is seething with incident: a "raj orphan," whose mother died when he was born and whose father took no notice of him, he was shipped from Malaysia to Wales (cheaper than England) and entrusted to a foster mother who was cruel to him. What happened in the years before he settled into school, and was casually adopted by his best friend's kindly English country family, haunts, corrodes, and quickens Filth's heart; Gardam's prose is so economical that no moment she describes is either gratuitous or wasted." The New Yorker
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Tai-Pan

By James Clavell

Book 2/5 in Asian Saga

It is the early 19th century, when European traders and adventurers first began to penetrate the forbidding Chinese mainland. And it is in this exciting time and exotic place that a giant of an Englishman, Dirk Straun, sets out to turn the desolate island of Hong Kong into an impregnable fortress of British power, + Read More..
Book 2/5 in Asian Saga

It is the early 19th century, when European traders and adventurers first began to penetrate the forbidding Chinese mainland. And it is in this exciting time and exotic place that a giant of an Englishman, Dirk Straun, sets out to turn the desolate island of Hong Kong into an impregnable fortress of British power, and to make himself supreme ruler…Tai-Pan!

“Grand entertainment...packed with action...gaudy and flanboyant with blood and sin, treachery and conspiracy, sex and murder...fresh and vigorous.” New York Times
$10.00
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The Honourable Schoolboy

By John le Carré

As the fall of Saigon looms, master spy George Smiley must outmaneuver his Soviet counterpart on a battlefield that neither can afford to lose.

The mole has been eliminated, but the damage wrought has brought the British Secret Service to its knees. Given the charge of the gravely compromised Circus, George Smiley embarks on a campaign to uncover + Read More..
As the fall of Saigon looms, master spy George Smiley must outmaneuver his Soviet counterpart on a battlefield that neither can afford to lose.

The mole has been eliminated, but the damage wrought has brought the British Secret Service to its knees. Given the charge of the gravely compromised Circus, George Smiley embarks on a campaign to uncover what Moscow Centre most wants to hide. When the trail goes cold at a Hong Kong gold seam, Smiley dispatches Gerald Westerby to shake the money tree. A part-time operative with cover as a philandering journalist, Westerby insinuates himself into a war-torn world where allegiances—and lives—are bought and sold.

Brilliantly plotted and morally complex, The Honourable Schoolboy is the second instalment of John le Carré's renowned Karla trilogy and a riveting portrayal of postcolonial espionage.

“Not a page of this book is without intelligence and grace.” The New York Times
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The Language of Threads: A Novel

By Gail Tsukiyama

Readers of Women of the Silk never forgot the moving, powerful story of Pei, brought to work in the silk house as a girl, grown into a quiet but determined young woman whose life is subject to cruel twists of fate, including the loss of her closest friend, Lin.

Now we finally learn what happened to Pei, as she + Read More..
Readers of Women of the Silk never forgot the moving, powerful story of Pei, brought to work in the silk house as a girl, grown into a quiet but determined young woman whose life is subject to cruel twists of fate, including the loss of her closest friend, Lin.

Now we finally learn what happened to Pei, as she leaves the silk house for Hong Kong in the 1930s, arriving with a young orphan, Ji Shen, in her care. Her first job, in the home of a wealthy family, ends in disgrace, but soon Pei and Ji Shen find a new life in the home of Mrs. Finch, a British ex-patriate who welcomes them as the daughters she never had.

Their idyllic life is interrupted, however, by war, and the Japanese occupation. Pei is once again forced to make her own way, struggling to survive and to keep her extended family alive as well. In this story of hardship and survival, Tsukiyama paints a portrait of women fighting the forces of war and time to make a life for themselves.

“A saga of a Chinese woman in the WWII era and sequel to Women of the Silk . . . historically fascinating.” Kirkus Reviews
$10.00
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The Painted Veil

By W. Somerset Maugham

First published in 1925, The Painted Veil is an affirmation of the human capacity to grow, change, and forgive.

Set in England and Hong Kong in the 1920s, this beautifully written character study is an affirmation of the human capacity to grow, change, and forgive. The Painted Veil is the story of the beautiful but shallow young Kitty Fane, + Read More..
First published in 1925, The Painted Veil is an affirmation of the human capacity to grow, change, and forgive.

Set in England and Hong Kong in the 1920s, this beautifully written character study is an affirmation of the human capacity to grow, change, and forgive. The Painted Veil is the story of the beautiful but shallow young Kitty Fane, who marries for money rather than love. When her husband, a quiet doctor, discovers her adulterous affair, he forces her to accompany him to a remote region of China ravaged by a cholera epidemic.

There, stripped of the British society of her youth and overwhelmed by the desolation around her, Kitty's conscience begins to awaken. As she takes up work with children at a convent and experiences some of the burden her husband has taken on, she and her husband begin to rediscover each other in a new light.

When her husband is tragically killed, Kitty is forced to return to England to raise her unborn child. Though it is too late for her marriage, she has learned humility, independence, and at last, how to love.

''The modern writer who has influenced me the most.'' George Orwell
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The Piano Teacher: A Novel

By Janice Y. K. Lee

The New York Times bestseller

In the sweeping tradition of The English Patient, Janice Y.K. Lee's debut novel is a tale of love and betrayal set in war-torn Hong Kong. In 1942, Englishman Will Truesdale falls headlong into a passionate relationship with Trudy Liang, a beautiful Eurasian socialite. But their affair is soon threatened by the invasion of + Read More..
The New York Times bestseller

In the sweeping tradition of The English Patient, Janice Y.K. Lee's debut novel is a tale of love and betrayal set in war-torn Hong Kong. In 1942, Englishman Will Truesdale falls headlong into a passionate relationship with Trudy Liang, a beautiful Eurasian socialite. But their affair is soon threatened by the invasion of the Japanese as World War II overwhelms their part of the world.

Ten years later, Claire Pendleton comes to Hong Kong to work as a piano teacher and also begins a fateful affair. As the threads of this spellbinding novel intertwine, impossible choices emerge-between love and safety, courage and survival, the present, and above all, the past.

"A rare and exquisite story . . . Transports you out of time, out of place, into a world you can feel on your very skin." Elizabeth Gilbert
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The World of Suzie Wong: A Novel

By Richard Mason

Penguin Books reintroduces the timeless story of the love affair between a British artist and a Chinese prostitute.

Robert is t he only resident of the Nam Kok hotel not renting his room by the hour when he meets Suzie at the bar. She becomes his muse and they fall in love. But even in Hong Kong, where many + Read More..
Penguin Books reintroduces the timeless story of the love affair between a British artist and a Chinese prostitute.

Robert is t he only resident of the Nam Kok hotel not renting his room by the hour when he meets Suzie at the bar. She becomes his muse and they fall in love. But even in Hong Kong, where many white expatriates have Chinese mistresses, their romance could jeopardize the things they each hold dear.

Set in the mid-1950s, The World of Suzie Wong is a beautifully written time capsule of a novel. First published more than fifty years ago, it resonated with readers worldwide, inspiring a film starring William H olden, a ballet, and even a reggae song. Now readers can experience the romance of this groundbreaking story anew.

“Reminiscent of Somerset Maugham at his storytelling best… Suzie Wong is enchanting.” New York Herald Tribune
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This is Hong Kong

By Miroslav Sasek

Like the other Sasek classics, this is a facsimile edition of the original book. The brilliant, vibrant illustrations have been meticulously preserved, remaining true to his vision more than 40 years later. Facts have been updated for the 21st-century, appearing on a "This is . . . Today" page at the back of the book.

These charming illustrations, + Read More..
Like the other Sasek classics, this is a facsimile edition of the original book. The brilliant, vibrant illustrations have been meticulously preserved, remaining true to his vision more than 40 years later. Facts have been updated for the 21st-century, appearing on a "This is . . . Today" page at the back of the book.

These charming illustrations, coupled with Sasek's witty, playful narrative, make for a perfect souvenir that will delight both children and their parents, many of whom will remember the series from their own childhoods.

This is Hong Kong, first published in 1965, captures the enchantment and the contrasts of Hong Kong in the sixties. Roaring jets bring in the tourists; bamboo rickshaws taxi them through exotic streets fragrant with incense, roasting chestnuts, and honey-glazed Peking duck.

Sasek shows you the sweeping panorama of gleaming Kowloon Bay framed by misty mountain ridges, then moves in for close-ups of laborers and hawkers, refugees from the mainland, and sailors of flame-red junks, and the strange "water people" who, it is said, never set foot on dry land.
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Through the Looking Glass: China’s Foreign Journalists from Opium Wars to Mao

By Paul French

The convulsive history of foreign journalists in China starts with the newspapers printed in the European Factories of Canton in the 1820s and ends with the Communist revolution in 1949. It also starts with a duel between two editors over the China’s future and ends with a fistfight in Shanghai over the revolution.

The men and women of + Read More..
The convulsive history of foreign journalists in China starts with the newspapers printed in the European Factories of Canton in the 1820s and ends with the Communist revolution in 1949. It also starts with a duel between two editors over the China’s future and ends with a fistfight in Shanghai over the revolution.

The men and women of the foreign press experienced China's history and development; its convulsions and upheavals; revolutions and wars. They had front row seats at every major twist and turn in China’s fortunes. They reported on the Opium Wars and the Taiping Rebellion; saw the Summer Palace burn; endured the Boxer Rebellion; witnessed the Qing Dynasty's death, the birth of a Nationalist China and its struggle for survival against rampant warlordism. They followed the rise of the Communists, total war and then revolution.

When the Unequal Treaties were signed, the foreign press were there; when foreign troops occupied and looted Beijing in 1900 they were present too; they saw the Republic born in 1911 and an increasingly politically strident China assert itself on May Fourth 1919. Foreign journalists stood in the streets witnessing the blood letting of the First Shanghai War in 1932 and then were blown of their feet by the bombing of the Second Shanghai War in 1937. They tracked Japanese aggression from the annexation of Manchuria, the fall of Shanghai and the Rape of Nanjing through to the assault on the Nationalist wartime capital of Chongqing as they cowered in the same bomb shelters as everybody else.

They witnessed the fratricidal Civil War, the flight of Chiang Kai-shek to Taiwan and the early days of the People's Republic. The old China press corps were the witnesses and the primary interpreters to millions globally of the history of modern China and they were themselves a cast of fascinating characters.

Like journalists everywhere they took sides, they brought their own assumptions and prejudices to China along with their hopes, dreams and fears. They weren't infallible; they got the story completely wrong as often as they got it partially right. They were a mixed bunch – from long timers such as George 'Morrison of Peking'; glamorous journalist-sojourners such as Peter Fleming and Emily Hahn; and reporter-tourists such as Ernest Hemingway and Martha Gellhorn along with numerous less celebrated, but no less interesting, members of the old China press corps.

A fair few were drunks, philanderers and frauds; more than one was a spy – they changed sides, they lost their impartiality, they displayed bias and a few were downright scoundrels and liars. But most did their job ably and professionally, some passionately and a select few with rare flair and touches of genius.