Japan and America: A Contrast • Carl Crow

By |October 9th, 2016|

Japan and America (1916) is a forceful warning about Japan’s diplomatic duplicity and its expansionist plans. Carl Crow (1883–1945), an American newspaperman based in Shanghai, was vehemently anti-Japan, but his strident tone seems justified given how subsequent events unfolded. He ends the book with a prophetic prediction:
In their hearts the […]

Author Interview • Ken Berglund

By |September 18th, 2016|

Californian Ken Berglund spent four and a half years in Taiwan working as an English teacher, the subject of his first book, An American Teacher in Taiwan (read my review of the book here). He married a local lass, had two kids, and then moved back to America with his […]

An American Teacher in Taiwan • Ken Berglund

By |September 18th, 2016|

It’s easy to forget how overwhelming the first days of your new life in Asia can be; the crushing language barrier makes simple things like ordering a meal an ordeal; learning to navigate the public transportation system happens one mistake at a time; and that “easy to find” job can […]

Watching Big Brother: Political Cartoons by Badiucao • China Digital Times

By |September 13th, 2016|

In the lead-up to the fortieth anniversary of Mao Zedong’s death (September 9, 1976), controversy raged in an unlikely place. Among the Chinese community in Australia there was a divisive argument about two Mao tribute concerts planned for Sydney and Melbourne. Australia-based Chinese cartoonist Badiucao expressed his disgust:

Badiucao is one of […]

The Gunners of Shenyang • Yu Jihui

By |September 8th, 2016|

How best to capture in print the madness of the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution? Should a writer focus on a village, or zoom in on an individual’s plight? How about a multi-generation family saga for an epic sweep? Perhaps a detached analytical approach drawing heavily on statistics […]

A Decent Bottle of Wine in China • Chris Ruffle

By |September 7th, 2016|

Establishing a winery in an exotic locale is the kind of project we might daydream about, but one we have the good sense not to actually pursue. Englishman Chris Ruffle didn’t have such sense. Rather, he made his mission even harder by doing it in China, and from scratch, and, […]

Nemesis: The First Iron Warship and her World • Adrian G. Marshall

By |August 30th, 2016|

Among the ranks of history’s most iconic warships – the likes of HMS Victory, the USS Missouri, and the German dreadnought Bismarck – stands proudly the immortal Nemesis. The first iron-hulled warship in the East, it was employed with devastating effect in the First Opium War (1839–1841). Its debut was […]

Author Interview: James Lande

By |August 28th, 2016|

Beijing-based writer Isham Cook talks to fellow American James Lande, the author of Yang Shen: The God from the West, an epic novel set during the bloody Taiping Rebellion of the mid-nineteenth century.

What got you interested in this particular time period in Chinese history?

The late Ch’ing Dynasty was where I found […]

Yang Shen: The God from the West • James Lande

By |August 28th, 2016|

Reviewed by Isham Cook.

Last century China experienced one of its periodic mid-century blowouts, where everything that can go wrong does go wrong and tens of millions die in senseless slaughter. The Chinese Civil War of 1927-50: 2-8 million dead. The Sino-Japanese War of 1937-45: up to 26 million dead. The […]

At the Teahouse Café: Essays from the Middle Kingdom • Isham Cook

By |August 27th, 2016|

Isham Cook’s writing was recommended to me by Arthur Meursault. I’d previously chanced upon Cook’s website but been put off by the pervy content. When I say “pervy,” I don’t mean that Cook is the sort of chap you wouldn’t want pet-sitting your llama, or that his bedroom drawers are […]