Generation HK: Seeking Identity in China’s Shadow • Ben Bland

By |August 15th, 2017|

Generation HK is a fantastic read for anyone interested in contemporary Hong Kong or Taiwan. The former British colony is a weathervane – or supposed showcase – for Taiwan’s prospective future under the loving embrace of Motherland China’s “one country, two systems” principle. Unfortunate then that the PRC is like […]

Bloody Saturday: Shanghai’s Darkest Day • Paul French

By |August 7th, 2017|

When did the Second World War begin? The conventional date is September 1, 1939, with Nazi Germany’s invasion of Poland and the subsequent declarations of war by France and the United Kingdom on the third of the month. However, with a growing appreciation for China’s important wartime role, historians are increasingly looking to the Second Sino-Japanese […]

The Silver Way: China, Spanish America and the birth of globalisation 1565–1815 • Peter Gordon and Juan José Morales 

By |July 12th, 2017|


 This small book – a Penguin Special weighing in at a hundred pages – packs a punch, and though no more than an afternoon’s easy reading, it may well alter the way you think about the history of China and globalization.

The “Silver Way” in the title refers to the “Ruta […]

Through the Looking Glass: China’s Foreign Journalists from Opium Wars to Mao • Paul French

By |July 12th, 2017|

Late at night and deep into research – i.e. drinking heavily while trawling the Internet – I was becoming increasingly convinced that my idea for a book was a brilliant one. Yes, I would retrace Peter Fleming’s journey from Peking to Kashmir described in his 1936 travel classic News From […]

What Never Leaves • Daniel Tam-Claiborne

By |June 9th, 2017|

“Why should I blame anyone but myself if I cannot understand what I know nothing about?”

We are all—even the best of us—quick to judge. The unfamiliar confuses, upsets, and undermines our conventions, forcing us to put aside what we’re accustomed to, including the distinct, learned ways in which we’ve come […]

American Agent • John C. Caldwell and Mark Gayn

By |May 23rd, 2017|

Published in 1947 in the wake of a war that consumed the Pacific, American Agent is the uninspiring title of a remarkable true story. American involvement in the local Chinese resistance to the Japanese was little known at the time, even more rarely reported on, and barely acknowledged by the powers in Washington […]

In the Land of Pagodas • Alfred Raquez

By |May 19th, 2017|

In the Land of Pagodas: A Classic Account of Travel in Hong Kong, Macao, Shanghai, Hubei, Hunan and Guizhou

by Alfred Raquez (Edited and translated by William L. Gibson and Paul Bruthiaux)

Long out of print in the original French, this travel account of China at the end of the nineteenth century […]

Pan-Asian Sports and the Emergence of Modern Asia, 1913-1974 • Stefan Huebner

By |May 9th, 2017|

For many sports fans, life is measured out in four-year milestones provided by the Football World Cup, the Olympics, or – in my case – the Rugby World Cup. We can reel off the years, locations, and winners, and we can often recall where we were at the time and […]

The Search for a Vanishing Beijing: A Guide to China’s Capital Through the Ages • Michael A. Aldrich

By |May 6th, 2017|

This is a tremendously enjoyable book; reading it feels like going for a stroll through Old Peking with a companion who is a cross between Peter Hopkirk and Mark Twain. On the very first page of the book, Aldrich lays out his stall with an explanation of the use of […]

Author Interview: Tim Symonds

By |March 30th, 2017|

Englishman Tim Symonds is the author of five Sherlock Holmes novels, most recently the highly enjoyable Sherlock Holmes and the Nine-Dragon Sigil, which takes Holmes and Watson to the Forbidden City in Peking during the last days of the Qing dynasty. 

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What does the “Nine-Dragon Sigil” in the book title refer […]