A compilation of 26 biographical accounts from the entire spectrum of Shanghai’s Baghdadi Jewish society offers fresh insights into a remarkable community that lived through the crossroads of China’s 20th-century history. Using previously unseen diaries and archival material, Shanghai’s Baghdadi Jews documents the rise and fall of larger-than-life personalities who witnessed the Sino-Japanese War, the Occupation of Shanghai and the Communist Party’s rise to power. Photographs illustrate the life and times of these individuals and the magnificent, cosmopolitan city they called home.
“The narrative skill of the author, and the lucid prose flowing from her pen, belie the years of painstaking, dogged pursuance of source material, literally worldwide, all meticulously researched and scrupulously authenticated.” – Sephardi Bulletin
“This ground-breaking book provides the opportunity for genuine self-expression to members of the community who have so far not been heard, and amongst them, those who have since passed away. The narrative offers perspectives of personalities whose lives were shaped by crucial historical events, and fresh insights into the day-to-day lives of this remarkable community. ” – Jewish Times Asia
“Fifty black-and-white photos also illustrate life in Shanghai – family get-togethers, outings and for the upper crust, balls and socials where the hostess didn’t need to lift a finger. Some accounts show how certain families lived like princes with many servants and home schooling. Others were less fortunate but, while not always getting on, they were a community. … The accounts show how life changed forever under occupation and the later Communist revolution, when some moved to Hong Kong. These are subjective, oral accounts of the lives of this vibrant community, but Meyer provides plenty of historical background and timelines to give it context.” – South China Morning Post
“The Baghdadi Jews who came to Shanghai are legendary. The names Hardoon, Kadoorie and Sassoon were emblazoned over the business and social life of East Asia for over a century. They were exciting, dynamic personalities and their philanthropy spread far beyond the confines of the Treaty Port. Dr Maisie Meyer digs behind the legend through her skilful use of archival material.” – China Rhyming
“In recent years, as the lives of wartime European Jewish refugees in Shanghai have drawn increasing attention from both scholars and general public, numerous Shanghai survivors have published their stories in memoir form. Scholars have also employed the personal and biographical approach in relating their experiences. Maisie Meyer’s Shanghai’s Baghdadi Jews makes yet another contribution to this genre by examining individual lives within a community of Jews who established themselves much earlier in the burgeoning metropolis. … In sum, Shanghai’s Baghdadi Jews is a welcome addition to the popular literature on this under-appreciated subject. It is lively and engaging, and the author has a sharp eye for personalities and revealing anecdotes.” – Points East