David Leffman was born and raised in the UK, took a degree in photography, spent 20 years in Australia and then relocated back to Britain in 2009. He first visited China in 1985 and has since authored travel guidebooks to China, Hong Kong, Australia, Indonesia and Iceland for publishers such as DK and Rough Guides; helped compile a Chinese cookbook; and written articles on subjects ranging from crime to horse racing. The Mercenary Mandarin is the result of 15 years spent in archives and on the road, following Mesny’s trail around China’s backblocks.

For hundreds of photographs, research notes and extracts from early versions of the book, please like “The Mercenary Mandarin” on Facebook or visit the author’s website at www.davidleffman.com.