/History
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    In war, you can pretend to be someone you’re not. Yet, in war, people find out who you really are.

    Hong Kong, 1941. Anglo-Australian civil servant Dominic Sotherly’s colonial sojourn in Hong Kong becomes complicated by his double life in both war and love. Enigmatic Englishwoman Gwen Harmison possesses secrets of her own – plus an unrelenting desire for liberty. Inscrutable Eurasian Chester Drake is but one of Gwen’s secrets.

    From gaiety at the Peninsula Hotel to persecution both inside and outside of internment, the story journeys from war-ravaged Hong Kong to war-weary China.

    From real history, meet the one-legged Chinese admiral who led Hong Kong’s daring ‘Great Escape’ and the Japanese Christian soldier who risked his life for the enemy. And, uniquely during the occupation of Hong Kong, discover how one Englishwoman made history in her defiance of Imperial Japan.

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    18 true stories of those who went...

    For the privileged a cosmopolitan pleasure ground;
    For the desperate a port of last resort.

    A pot of gold at the end of an Oriental rainbow;
    A thick slice of hell denounced from the pulpit.

    The start of a journey for many;
    The end of the road for some.

    A place to find fame, or to seek anonymity;
    Rogues, chancers, showgirls, criminals…

    For so many people from so many lands, there was one phrase that sent a tingle of hope or a shiver of anticipation down every spine:

    “DESTINATION SHANGHAI”

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    Click on the following links to read pages from Destination Shanghai. You will need a pdf reader to view these excerpts.

    Contents and Introduction 

    Shanghai’s Most Charming Gangster: Elly ‘The Swiss’ Widler (1940)

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    For more than a century, trams have plied their trade along the northern coast of Hong Kong Island. During that time, they have witnessed the transformation of the local economy from a colonial backwater to the massive financial centre that is the modern city. The post-war years, from the 1960s onward, have seen the radical redevelopment of much of the area along streets such as Hennessy Road and Des Voeux Road, while the reclamation of land along the seafront has seen the tramway, which once skirted the shore, pushed further and further inland.

    Today, Hong Kong trams still provide a vital public service, carrying vast numbers of passengers daily to and from their work or shops, and Hong Kong is one of the few places in the world where it is still possible to ride on the top deck of a double-deck tram. This album explores the history of the tramways of Hong Kong Island through the 20th century. Drawing upon a fascinating selection of photographs, most of which have never been published before, it traces the evolution of the streetscape over that period – giving readers a vivid reminder of a city that has been radically altered over the past half-century.

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    “I can’t visualise us getting out of this, but I want to TRY to believe in a future,” wrote 23-year-old Barbara Anslow (then Redwood) in her diary on 8th December 1941, a few hours after Japan first attacked Hong Kong.

    Barbara's 1941-1945 diaries (with post-war explanations where necessary) are an invaluable source of information on the civilian experience in British Hong Kong during the second world war. The diaries record her thoughts and experiences through the fighting, the surrender, three-and-a-half years of internment, then liberation and adjustment to normal life.

    The diaries have been quoted by leading historians on the subject. Now they are available in print for the first time, making them available to a wider audience.

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    Click on the following link to read pages from Tin Hats and Rice. You will need a pdf reader to view this excerpt.

    Foreword and introduction

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    A former senior Chinese Administrative Officer has at long last lifted another little corner of the veil of half-truths and anodyne official releases which hitherto shrouded many of the decisions and evasions under the long Hong Kong governorship of Sir Murray MacLehose.

    David T. K. Wong — who started working life as a dishwasher in a Chinese restaurant at the age of 13 before becoming a journalist, teacher, colonial bureaucrat, international businessman, and then a writer of short stories and novels — is clearly a man of many parts. He has now turned his narrative skills to producing a pungent, sardonic, cerebral and revelatory insider memoir of his experiences in the upper reaches of the colonial administration during the 1970s.

    In doing so, he draws attention to the political, cultural and economic cross-currents that have always swirled through the uniquely paradoxical city. As a Chinese, he constantly found himself struggling with a three-horned dilemma: how to serve the people of Hong Kong, who paid his salary; the wider Chinese nation, from which he was culturally and emotionally inseparable; and the demands of the British crown, to which he had publicly sworn his allegiance.

    Hong Kong Confidential is a valuable contribution to the historical mosaic of a dynamic Chinese community living through turbulent times.

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    Click on the following link to read pages from Hong Kong Confidential. You will need a pdf reader to view these excerpts.

    Chapter 1: Interregnum

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    Part of the Royal Asiatic Society Hong Kong Studies Series

    The Peak is Hong Kong’s top residential district, where property prices are as high as the altitude. How did it become an exclusive enclave in the bustling business centre of 19th-century Asia?

    The British wanted relief from summer heat and the Peak was the obvious place to escape it. When the Governor adopted Mountain Lodge as a summer getaway, development accelerated and the opening of the Peak Tram in 1888 made access easier. Gradually a community developed and a church, a club and a school were established.

    This book describes how the now-popular tourist area developed over time and adapted as needs changed.

  • 20th anniversary edition

    In the heart of Beijing, a large digital clock marked off the seconds until July 1, 1997, when the red, five-star flag of China would be hoisted over Hong Kong – and the grand but untried idea of “one country, two systems” would be put into practice.

    Farewell, My Colony is a real-time journal of the end of an era by an objective observer. American journalist Todd Crowell captures a unique moment in history as Britain stoically soldiers through the last months of its 156 years of colonial rule, China waits restlessly to resume its sovereignty, and Hong Kong buzzes with endless speculation.

    He tells how Hong Kong’s Chinese and expatriates, taipans and cagemen come to terms with the impending change of rule. He mingles with the rich and famous and common people alike. A long-term resident, he votes in elections controversially called by Governor Chris Patten. He then follows the selection of a rival legislature, and of Patten’s successor, shipping magnate Tung Chee-hwa, as the first chief executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.

    The city’s pulse is charted by his pen, through to the pomp, circumstance and partying of the day of handover itself. Now, 20 years later, Crowell has updated this valuable historical record with reflections on what has happened to Hong Kong since 1997.

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    Hong Kong, 1954. The British colony was not yet ready to hear about a Eurasian policeman having an affair with the police commissioner’s daughter. Twenty-two-year-old Simon Lee tasted swift punishment. He was banished to the outer fringes of the territory, to the far tip of a wild and distant island a stone’s throw from mainland Chinese waters — to Tai O, the ancient and murky trading post where fishermen, salt-farmers and refugees were thrown together with spies, pirates and triads. Pink dolphins swam the waters, eagles fished the sea, and some still believed that a tiger prowled the hills at night.

    It was a place haunted by history, where corpses had floated in the bay just a decade earlier when Japanese troops occupied the police station, and everybody had a secret about what they did during the war.

    Life was unpredictable for the band of beer-swilling misfits that staffed Tai O Police Station. Some said they needed reining in. But when a stranger was murdered on a beach, accused of being a Communist spy, Lee found himself on an unexpected collision course with his own masters in Central. Who had the dead man been working for? What did the secret agents know? Why was Central so eager to brush the execution aside? And who or what really was the ‘tiger’?

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    Syd Goldsmith’s first taste of China’s Cultural Revolution is blood on his tongue. It’s 1967. Hong Kong is simmering, plagued by communist-led riots and strikes, crippled transport, punishing water-rationing, takeover threats from Beijing and roadside bombs. And Syd — the only Caucasian Foreign Service Officer at the American Consulate General who speaks Cantonese — is made responsible for reporting and analysis of the Hong Kong government’s ability to survive.

    The CIA station chief and the head of Macau’s gold syndicate play major roles in Syd’s story, along with Newsweeks Sydney Liu and Maynard Parker, and a steady stream of inquiring foreign correspondents and China-watchers. Richard Nixon makes a cameo appearance — to talk football with Syd since the consul general won’t see him — in this riveting memoir of a year when Hong Kong’s “borrowed time” seemed about to expire.

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    Click on the following link to read pages from Hong Kong on the Brink. You will need a pdf reader to view this excerpt.

    Chapters 1 to 3

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    Part of the Royal Asiatic Society Hong Kong Studies Series

    Hong Kong, 1918. A tranquil place compared to war-torn Europe. But on the morning of the 22nd January, a running battle through the streets of Wanchai ended in “The Siege of Gresson Street”. Five policemen lay dead, so shocking Hong Kong that over half the population turned out to watch their funeral procession.

    One of the dead, Inspector Mortimor O’Sullivan, came from Newmarket: a small town nestled deep in rural Ireland. He, along with a dozen and more relatives, had sailed out to Hong Kong to join the Police Force.

    Using family records and memories alongside extensive research in Hong Kong, Ireland and London, Patricia O’Sullivan tells the story of these policemen and the criminals they dealt with. This book also gives a rare glimpse into the day-to-day life of working-class Europeans at the time, as it follows the Newmarket men, their wives and families, from their first arrival in 1864 through to 1941 and beyond.

    “This groundbreaking book is a story of life, death, and crime in colonial Hong Kong. It is also an account of an important part of Hong Kong’s population that has eluded most historians: the European working class. With an arsenal of previously untapped materials in Ireland, Britain and Hong Kong, Patricia O’Sullivan tells the remarkable tales of the families who built their own ‘little Ireland’ in Hong Kong.” – John M. Carroll, Dept. of History, University of Hong Kong

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    Click on the following link to read pages from Policing Hong Kong – An Irish History. You will need a pdf reader to view this excerpt.

    Introduction


  • In 1976, Peter Mann left a gloomy England for the last corner of the British empire: Hong Kong.

    As a police inspector, he commanded a sub-unit and led a district vice squad in Kowloon, before joining the colonial government’s Administrative Service and working in the fields of transport, housing, security, environment and tourism. He also served as District Officer, Wan Chai. From raids on gambling dens to organising Governors' visits, his work involved him in all levels of Hong Kong society.

    Mann’s memoir is an anecdotal, historical and racy account of Hong Kong’s last decades as a British colony and the colourful story of a young Englishman in the twilight of empire.

    Hong Kong is one of the most intriguing places in the world and its modern history is endlessly fascinating. This book is a highly readable addition to the canon of memoirs which illuminate the period.” – Rachel Cartland, author of Paper Tigress

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    Click on the following link to read pages from Sheriff of Wan Chai. You will need a pdf reader to view this excerpt.  Arrival in Hong Kong


  • Jersey-born William Mesny ran off to sea as a boy and jumped ship at Shanghai in 1860 when he was just 18. Amid the chaos of foreign intrigue and civil war in 19th-century China, he became a smuggler, a prisoner of the Taiping rebels, a gun-runner and finally enlisted in the Chinese military.

    After five years of fierce campaigning against the Miao in remote Guizhou province, Mesny rose to the rank of general and used this privileged position to travel around China – to the borders with Burma, Tibet and Vietnam – writing opinionated newspaper articles, collecting plants and advising government officials on the development of railways, telegraphs and other modern reforms.

    Mesny eventually settled in Shanghai with a 16-year-old concubine and published Mesny's Chinese Miscellany, a weekly magazine about his experiences. But his story was not to end well. After his implication in an illicit arms deal, his fortunes never recovered, and when he died in 1919 he was working as a desk clerk.

    David Leffman has spent over 15 years footstepping Mesny’s travels across China, interviewing locals and piecing together his life story from contemporary journals, private letters and newspaper articles.

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    Click on the following links to view sample pages from The Mercenary Mandarin. You will need a pdf reader to view these excerpts.   Foreword


  • Japan marched into Hong Kong at the outbreak of the Pacific War on December 8, 1941. On the same day, Graham Heywood was captured by the invading Japanese near the border while carrying out duties for the Royal Observatory. He was held at various places in the New Territories before being transported to the military Prisoner-of-War camp in Sham Shui Po, Kowloon. The Japanese refused to allow Heywood and his colleague Leonard Starbuck to join the civilians at the Stanley internment camp.

    Heywood’s illustrated diary records his three-and-a-half years of internment, telling a story of hardship, adversity, and survival of malnutrition and disease; as well as repeated hopes of liberation and disappointment. As he awaits the end of the war, his reflections upon freedom and imprisonment bring realisations about life and how to live it.

    Accounts of life in the internment camp differed widely. One friend, an enthusiastic biologist, was full of his doings; he had grown champion vegetables, had seen all sort of rare birds (including vultures, after the corpses) and had run a successful yeast brewery. Altogether, he said, it had been a great experience ... a bit too long, perhaps, but not bad fun at all. Another ended up her account by saying ‘Oh, Mr. Heywood, it was hell on earth’. It all depended on their point of view.”

    Heywood’s highly positive attitude to life is food for thought for all of us today, in the midst of increasing consumerism but decreasing spiritual satisfaction. We have enjoyed freedom and an abundance of material wealth in the 70 years since the end of the Pacific War, but we may not always recognise our true good fortune.

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    Click on the following links to view sample pages from It Won't Be Long Now. You will need a pdf reader to view these excerpts.   Foreword   Chapter 1 - Capture

  • with a foreword by Irene Eber

    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.

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    Click on the following links to view sample pages from Shanghai’s Baghdadi Jews. You will need a pdf reader to view these excerpts.

    Foreword  Sample photo pages

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    Rachel Cartland came to Hong Kong in 1972 as one of just two female expatriates in the Hong Kong Government’s elite administrative grade.

    Before she retired in 2006, her life was shaped by the momentous events that rocked Hong Kong during those action-packed years: corruption and the police mutiny, the growth of the new towns, the currency crisis of 1983, Tiananmen Square, the change of sovereignty and the devastation of SARS. The backdrop to her story ranges from Kowloon’s infamous Walled City to Government House to the rural New Territories.

    Paper Tigress is full of humour and incident and, at the same time, an accessible account of modern Hong Kong and the forces that shaped it.

    "Rachel’s remarkable recollection of an exciting era in Hong Kong not only brings back 40 years of shared memories, but is a fair and often amusing story of how colleagues in the Administrative Service worked together to build up this modern city – and, in the process, injected core values that hopefully will stand Hong Kong in good stead for years to come.” – Shelley Lee Lai-kuen, GBS, OBE, JP, former Permanent Secretary for Home Affairs

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    Click on the link below to read pages from Paper Tigress. You will need a pdf reader to view these excerpts.

    Early Days in Hong Kong

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    Walking is the best way to get to know any city, and Macau — the former Portuguese colony returned to China in 1999 — is made for walking. Only seven miles square, one can easily walk from the Border Gate to the A-Ma Temple at the tip of Macau in a day.

    This guidebook describes eight routes around the urban peninsula and its outlying islands, sufficient to explore and understand this fascinating old city and its unique blend of European and Asian architecture, cuisine and cultures.

    “An invaluable pocket guide that is perfect for the first-time visitor as well as old hands.” — South China Morning Post

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    Click on this link to view sample pages from Explore Macau. You will need a pdf reader to view this excerpt.

    Walk 3

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    Danzan Ravjaa (1803-1856), officially known as the Fifth Noyon Incarnate Lama of the Gobi Desert, is perhaps Mongolia's most beloved saint. The Fourth had caused so many scandals that the Manchu Emperor banned his reincarnation. Consequently, when the young child was enthroned as the Fifth, the Emperor issued an edict of execution on the boy and all associated with the event. The child was only saved by the personal intervention of the Panchen Lama and a letter of appeal from the young Ninth Dalai Lama. Their efforts proved well worthwhile, for the boy went on to become one of the greatest mystics and creative geniuses of 19th-century Mongolia.

    Lama of the Gobi is an investigative account of the life and times of this extraordinary man. It takes the reader on a journey through Mongolian history, Tibetan Buddhism and the traditions of nomadic culture, to generate an appreciation of the man and the legends that surround him. This revealing story winds its way from Danzan Ravjaa’s mythic past until the present day – as the people of the Gobi Desert still faithfully maintain his cult-like status.

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    Click on the below link to view sample pages from Lama of the Gobi. You will need a pdf reader to view this excerpt. 

    Preface & Introduction

  • by Feng Chi-shun "Diamond Hill was one of the poorest and most backward of villages in Hong Kong at a time when Hong Kong itself was poor and backward. We moved there in 1956 when I was almost 10. I left when I was 19. Those were the formative years of my life. It’s a time that I remember well and cherish. This memoir of a native son of a Kowloon-side squatter village – the first book ever on Diamond Hill, in either Chinese or English – presents the early days of a life shaped by a now-extinct community. Penned by a high-achieving Hong Kong professional, Feng Chi-shun’s sharp recollections of his humble upbringing contain warmth, humour, and an abundance of insights into a low-income Hong Kong neighbourhood that no longer exists – but remains close to the hearts of many who lived there. Diamond Hill will invite comparisons with Martin Booth's Gweilo. If you enjoyed the latter, you will likely find the former similarly absorbing, because the young Feng was, for many a “gweilo”, the inaccessible yet intriguing face of an altogether edgier Hong Kong. Look inside this book Click on the following link to view sample pages from Diamond Hill. You will need a pdf reader to view this excerpt. Thugs and gangsters
  • by Jonathan Chamberlain, with a foreword by Sir David Tang From the start of the Korean war to the end of the Vietnam war, Hong Kong was a major R&R centre for soldiers and sailors. And there were thousands of local people who made their money making sure these visitors had a good time and got the suits and the girls they wanted. In fact they didn’t just wait for their customers to arrive – they sailed out in a flotilla of small boats to greet the ships as they entered the harbour. And then, when the ships had anchored, they shimmied up the anchor chain to be the first to get the orders for shirts and trousers. These were the tailor shop order men. Peter Hui was one of them. But who was Peter? What was his story? Well, before he took to being a tailor he had been a famous kung fu fighter; a rich playboy, a frequenter of the pleasure houses of Macau; a gambler (he had run three gambling joints in Canton when the Communists walked in); the brains behind a gang of armed robbers (he alone escaped arrest when their third robbery went wrong); an associate of triads – and, before all that, he had been the owner of the biggest string of Mongolian ponies at the Hong Kong Jockey Club – that was during the war years when he was a leading collaborator of the Japanese. He had once, for a very short time, owned all the opium in Hong Kong! Later, after his tailoring days had gone flat, he was paid by a CIA officer to report on events in China. This was during the tumultuous years of the Cultural Revolution, when Red Guard factions fought amongst each other. Some periods in history are best illuminated by the stories of men and women who lived through them. This is one of those stories. As we follow Peter’s life – his ups, his downs – we see in sharp focus what it was like to be a Chinese man in the British colony of Hong Kong through most of the years of the 20th century. This is the true, bizarre story of a man who knew everybody and saw everything. He wasn’t a wicked man. He was just trying to get by, like everyone else. This is his truly fascinating story. And yet this book is not just one man’s story. It is the story of a time and place – colonial Hong Kong, Portuguese Macau and the south China hinterland between Hong Kong and Canton – seen from the unique point of view of a man who was at home at all levels of society. There are, for example, no other published accounts of the Japanese occupation of Hong Kong as seen from the non-combatant Chinese perspective. The World of Suzie Wong was a best-selling novel in the 1960s – and this story is its background. If Suzie had been a real girl, Peter would have known her. Look inside this book Click on the following link to view sample pages from King Hui. You will need a pdf reader to view this excerpt.  Introduction