• The Mercenary Mandarin: How a British adventurer became a general in Qing-dynasty China

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    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.

    Look inside this book

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

  • Strangers on the Praia: A Tale of Refugees and Resistance in Wartime Macao

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    Based on true stories and new research, Paul French weaves together the stories of those Jewish refugees who moved on from wartime Shanghai to seek a possible route to freedom via the Portuguese colony of Macao – “the Casablanca of the Orient”.

    The delicately balanced neutral enclave became their wartime home, amid Nazi and Japanese spies, escaped Allied prisoners from Hong Kong, and displaced Chinese.

    Strangers on the Praia relates the story of one young woman’s struggle for freedom that would ultimately prove an act of brave resistance.

     

  • Destination Peking

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    New York Times bestselling author Paul French (Midnight in Peking, City of Devils) returns to the Chinese capital to tell 18 true stories of fascinating people who visited the city in the first half of the 20th century.

    From the ultra-wealthy Woolworths heiress Barbara Hutton and her husband the Prince Mdivani, to the poor “American girl” Mona Monteith who worked in the city as a prostitute; from socialite Wallis Simpson and novelist JP Marquand, who held court on the rooftop of the Grand Hôtel de Pékin, to Hollywood screenwriter Harry Hervey, who sought inspiration walking atop the Tartar Wall; from Edgar and Helen Foster Snow – Peking's ‘It' couple of 1935 – to Martha Sawyers, who did so much to aid China against Japan in World War II; Destination Peking brings a lost pre-communist era back to life.

    Paul French resurrects a Peking that was filled with glitter as well as evil, but was never known for being dull.” The Economist

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    Contents & Introduction

    The Rooftop of the Grand Hôtel de Pékin: Wallis Spencer’s Peking World & Those Who Went Up on the Roof (1924)

  • Shanghai’s Baghdadi Jews: A Collection of Biographical Reflections

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    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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    Foreword  Sample photo pages

  • Sale!

    Trading Places: A photographic journey through China’s former Treaty Ports

    Original price was: HK$580.00.Current price is: HK$480.00.
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    With a foreword by Professor Robert Bickers

    China’s treaty port era extended from the 1840s to 1943, during which time foreigners had a significant presence. This book contains more than 700 photographs of many buildings from this period, most of them commissioned by foreign interests. Many argue that they should never have been built, let alone still be standing. But this book is not concerned with the rights and wrongs of how these buildings came to be. It simply celebrates their existence. A significant number are innately beautiful and all of them embody a history that has clear and present links to our own time and thus remain relevant.

    This book was driven by the author’s interest in the history of China’s treaty port era, in which several generations of his family played a part. It is a tribute to the buildings that remain as a reminder of the past, and a guide to where to find them.

  • Hong Kong on the Brink: An American diplomat relives 1967’s darkest days

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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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    Chapters 1 to 3

  • China Revisited: a series bundle

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    China Revisited is a series of extracted reprints of mid-nineteenth to early-twentieth century Western impressions of Hong Kong, Macao and China. The series comprises excerpts from travelogues or memoirs written by missionaries, diplomats, military personnel, journalists, tourists and temporary sojourners.

    They came to China from Europe or the United States, some to work or to serve the interests of their country, others out of curiosity. Each excerpt is fully annotated to best provide relevant explications of Hong Kong, Macao and China at the time, to illuminate encounters with historically interesting characters or notable events.

    Save 20% by buying this bundle which includes the following items in the series. Please click on their titles below to read full details.

    1 x Where Strange Gods Call: Harry Hervey's 1920s Hong Kong, Macao and Canton Sojourns

    1 x Wanderings in China: Hong Kong and Canton, Christmas and New Year, 1878/1879

    1 x LING-NAM: Hong Kong, Canton and Hainan Island in the 1880s

    1 x Roving Through Southern China: An American’s Explorations of Hong Kong, Macao and Canton in the early 1920s

  • South China Morning Blues

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    There’s no place quite like it. From Guangzhou to Hong Kong, the booming megalopolis of the Pearl River Delta has endless stories to tell. South China Morning Blues is filled with these tales of the postmodern East: depraved, rapidly changing, and never boring.

    Just what kinds of people find themselves in 21st-century China? There’s Marco, a crooked businessman with a penchant for call girls; Danny, a culture-shocked young traveler; Sheila, a local club girl caught up in family politics; Amber, a drug-fueled aspiring model; Terry, an alcoholic journalist; and Ting Ting, a lovable artist with a chip on her shoulder. Their lives intertwine in unexpected ways as they delve deeper into their surroundings and in the process learn more about themselves.

    China may be leading the world into the future, but its inhabitants will have to make sense of the present if that future is ever going to arrive.

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    Prologue: Shenzhen  Monkey

  • Chinese Gods: An introduction to Chinese folk religion

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    with a foreword by John Blofeld

    Chinese gods: Who are they? Where did they come from? What do they do?

    Chinese folk religion is the underlying belief system of more than a billion Chinese people. Go into any Chinese home, office or restaurant and you will see altars, statues or paper ‘good luck’ images. And wherever there is a Chinese community there are temples and Earth God shrines. But what is the religion that makes sense of all these expressions of belief? How do these beliefs connect to Taoism, Confucianism and Buddhism?

    Chinese Gods helps us understand the building blocks of this religion for which even the Chinese have no name – because the beliefs are so intertwined with language and culture they have no independent existence – and provides an in-depth analysis of 19 of the major gods of the Chinese pantheon.

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    Click on the links to view sample pages from Chinese Gods.  

    Contents & Preface  Kuan Ti

  • Master of None: How a Hong Kong high-flyer overcame the devastating experience of imprisonment

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    Does a man need a stint in jail to complete his life experiences?

    From Stanley Prison, corporate high-flyer John T. Hung recounts his life in a sweep of Hong Kong history over five generations – from his family roots in the 19th century through World War II to the present.

    The story tracks the richness of his mixed heritage and upbringing, his steady rise and precipitous fall from the pinnacles of corporate Hong Kong to the life-destroying court case and heartbreaking incarceration.

    With wry and subtle humour, Hung describes his colourful yet volatile life, interwoven into the social, commercial, political and sporting tapestry of Hong Kong and South East Asia.

    Master of None is a soulful exploration of human achievements, frailties, resilience in the face of adversity, and above all, the importance of family support in overcoming whatever fate may deal us.

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    Chapter 1  Chapter 32

  • Sleeping Chinese

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    We hear news reports of the rise of China and its sleepless economy, often with sinister undertones supposed to alarm us. The reality can look very different.

    German photographer Bernd Hagemann has long been fascinated by China and its people. He carries his camera at all times, because on every street corner you can find people napping in the strangest positions and situations, even snoring in deep slumber.

    “When China wakes, she will shake the world,” warned Napoleon. This may be true. But let’s not forget that hardworking people need their sleep too.

  • The Taste of Old Hong Kong: Recipes and memories from 30 years on the China coast

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    Reminiscences and recipes of favourite international and regional dishes from households, fancy restaurants and back lanes which you can enjoy today in Hong Kong, that classy old gal who will forever reign as the Queen of Cuisine for all who knew her when she was the jewel of the British Empire.

    Bestselling author Fred Schneiter shares a nostalgic romp back into that earlier era which has faded into treasured memories and photos. But we didn’t lose it all. The tantalizing cuisines and tempting cookpot scents of that earlier time remain. Many of them await you here.

    If you’ve ever daydreamed about what it might be like to drop back into an earlier, less hurried time in an exotic corner of the world, this is how we found the food, the friends and the fun in old Hong Kong.

  • Why Your CEO Failed in China: True tales of how not to do business in the People’s Republic

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    Previously published, in shorter form, as Business Republic of China

    Jack Leblanc arrived in China in 1989 intending to teach for just two years. He was to spend the next two decades on a very different learning curve as he became involved in a series of business ventures in almost every part of the Middle Kingdom.

    From farmyard to factory, boardroom to banquet, Leblanc witnessed (and occasionally assisted) the transformation of China from a socialist economy into the world's greatest experiment in capitalism. Over time it dawned upon him that the key to success is to manage the differences in Chinese and Western business behaviour. To do well in China you must carefully adapt your strategies – or face ruin faster than you can learn how to use chopsticks.

    This book is rich in practical detail. Leblanc’s experiences make for instructive reading for any foreign executive doing business in China.” China Economic Review

  • A Danger Shared: A Journalist’s Glimpses of a Continent at War

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    Photographs by Melville Jacoby / Text by Bill Lascher / Foreword by Paul French

    A Danger Shared: A Journalist's Glimpses of a Continent at War provides a searing visual history of Asia during World War II as seen by foreign correspondent Melville Jacoby.

    In this meticulously curated collection of never-before-seen images, readers experience glamorous Macau soirées, visit Guangxi farms, and witness wartime Chongqing’s wreckage and resilience. Along the way, Jacoby treats Filipino fishermen and Hanoi flower-sellers with the same care as the Soong sisters, Chiang Kai-Shek, and other icons.

    Through scenes of everyday friendship, toil, and commerce alongside bombed classrooms, anxious refugees, and exhausted soldiers, A Danger Shared documents humanity’s persistence at a cataclysmic historical moment.

    Look inside this book:
    Introduction

  • Paper Horses: Traditional Woodblock Prints of Gods from Northern China

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    In 2020 a large album of “paper horses” – prayer prints of Chinese gods – appeared for sale. How had these fragile things, cheaply printed in the 1940s and meant to be ritually burned soon after purchase, survived intact for so long? And how come there were at least three other identical sets in collections around the world?

    In answering this mystery, author David Leffman explores the history and techniques behind traditional Chinese woodblock printing, which dates back to at least the Tang dynasty (618-907). All 93 “paper horses” in the original album are reproduced alongside biographies of the gods, spirits and demons depicted, providing an illustrated introduction to the complex and fascinating world of Chinese folk religion.

    LOOK INSIDE THIS BOOK
    Click the following links to read excerpts from the book.

    Introduction   Stove God   Qilin Bringing Children

  • Searching for Billie: A journalist’s quest to understand his mother’s past leads him to discover a vanished China

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    Ian Gill’s first visit to Hong Kong in 1975 takes an unexpected turn when he meets his Chinese mother Billie’s friends, colleagues and fellow ex-prisoners of war, lifting the veil on a tumultuous past in Hong Kong and Shanghai.

    He moves to Asia and unravels her intriguing journey: from controversial adoption by an English postmaster in Changsha to popular radio broadcaster in wartime Shanghai, from tragedy and a doomed romance in a Japanese internment camp to being decorated by Queen Elizabeth II for services to the United Nations. He discovers a great-grandmother in a determined English farm girl who ends up owning a well-known hotel on the China coast in the 1870s – and he finally meets his father for the first time on a Canadian island in 1985.

    The backdrop for this fascinating family story is China’s turbulent century from the Anglo-Chinese wars of the 1840s to the advent of communism.

    Look inside this book:
    Contents and Chapter 1

  • The Yunnan Cookbook: Recipes from China’s land of ethnic diversity

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    From the yaks which graze at altitudes so high that vegetables cannot grow, and the paradise of Shangri-La; through the flower markets of Kunming, the dramatic tea terraces of Pu-er, and forest floors covered with wild mushrooms; to the tropical south where market stalls brim with brilliant red chillies and shimmering purple eggplants.

    Yunnan, an exotic land of former kingdoms which borders Tibet, Sichuan, Burma, Vietnam and Laos, is the most bio-diverse province in China. It is quite possibly the most beautiful part of the country, and also the most culturally rich. Each ethnic minority has its own distinct cooking ingredients, aromas and flavours – all brought together for the first time in this unique cookbook.

  • Backstage in Hong Kong: A life with the Philharmonic, Broadway musicals and classical superstars

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    After 50 momentous years, little is remembered of the chaos the Hong Kong Philharmonic faced in its early days as a professional outfit. John Duffus arrived in Hong Kong in 1979 as its fifth general manager in as many years. In this entertaining memoir he highlights those problems and illustrates how, with typical Scottish grit and determination, he helped get the orchestra on the road as an international ensemble.

    John’s subsequent concerts as a Hong Kong impresario with superstars Luciano Pavarotti, José Carreras, Plácido Domingo, Leslie Cheung, Kiri Te Kanawa, Yo-Yo Ma and many others, including pop icons Dionne Warwick and Olivia Newton-John, make for fascinating and occasionally shocking stories, as do the almost unbelievable backstage dramas he reveals – some complete in all their back-stabbing detail – while managing Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Asian companies and bringing CATS and Phantom of the Opera to Hong Kong.

  • Chinese Street Food: A Field Guide for the Adventurous Diner

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    Street food is the fuel of daily life in China, just as it has been for generations. In every Chinese city, adventurous travelers seeking a deeper understanding of authentic Chinese culture can find unique local street foods unavailable anywhere else in the world.

    If you want to sample these treasures but don’t know where to start, look no further. With full-color pictures, taste descriptions, Chinese characters and pinyin names of hundreds of foods from 53 Chinese cities, this book gives you all the information you need to find the most delicious local dishes China can offer.

    "Frank Kasell is one of China's best food bloggers. His blog is a giant, eating travel adventure." - City Weekend magazine, Shanghai

  • Getting Along with the Chinese: For Fun and Profit

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    Are the Chinese really so inscrutable?

    China Hand Fred Schneiter delves into the lighter side of Chinese psychology, and in doing so demystifies one of the toughest markets in the world. With an unfailing sense of humor, he offers insights for Sinophiles, Sinophobes and everyone in between. On the Hong Kong bestsellers list for twelve months, this book is now back in a new edition — the essential item to pack in your China survival kit.

    "Everyone working with Chinese, in or out of China, should read this and send a copy to their boss." -- Daniel Ng, managing director, McDonald's Hong Kong/South China

    "Should be required reading for everyone setting out for China for the first time. Lighthearted and highly readable." -- Donald M. Anderson, president, US-China Business Council

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    Prologue and Chapters 1 & 2

  • My Private China

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    What do normal people in China look forward to when they get up in the morning? What is the mentor of Lang Lang like? What about the personal friend of Chairman Mao – and how does his granddaughter relate to him after the murderous Cultural Revolution? What do the numerous evangelical Americans really think of the Chinese? How does the One Country, Two Systems paradigm work for Hong Kong?

    For the last 73 years, American Book Award winner Alex Kuo has travelled back-and-forth between America and China. These letters and essays portray the private China, and provide indispensable cultural information for anyone interested in the People’s Republic in the 21st century.

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    Introduction   Counting   The Re-Taking of Hong Kong

  • LING-NAM: Hong Kong, Canton and Hainan Island in the 1880s

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    By Benjamin Couch 'BC' Henry, introduced and annotated by Paul French
     
    No. 3 in the China Revisited series
     
    Benjamin Couch “BC” Henry was a missionary in Hong Kong and southern China in the second half of the 19th century. He arrived in 1873 and remained until 1894. Yet he was much more too – a keen observer, a skilled naturalist and an intrepid explorer. His fascination with the flora and fauna of Hong Kong and southern China are obvious throughout the pages of LING-NAM.
     
    The bulk of his career in China was spent in what was then commonly known as “Ling-nam”, the Pearl River Delta and environs of Guangzhou. These excerpts of Henry’s travelogue LING-NAM, published in 1886, contain one of the most detailed walking tours of Guangzhou that has survived. Similarly so his travels through the silk, tea and market garden regions adjoining the metropolis. Abd finally, we have Henry’s ground-breaking account of his expeditions around Hainan Island in 1882, then the most extensive undertaken to date by a foreigner. He was also a keen anthropologist interested in the island’s various ethnic groups, such as the Lois, as well as the various languages and dialects of Hainan. Henry’s portrait of southern China was built up over 20 years work and exploration in the region and provides one of the most in-depth looks at southern Chinese life from the growth of Hong Kong, to the bustling streets of Guangzhou, to Hainan’s “Island of Palms”.

    “Drifting slowly by a large collection of flower-boats, gay with lamps and mirrors, and richly furnished with black-wood sofas and embroidered curtains… Dire confusion is often created among the slipper-boats, whose anchorage adjoins, by the surging of the steamer against their outer lines, causing them to jump, and sputter, and dart about like a swarm of ants, shell-like craft, whilst they vociferously hurl maledictions at the great steamer.”

     

  • The Girl Who Dreamed: A Hong Kong Memoir of Triumph Against the Odds

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    At the age of 14, Sonia Leung was raped by her ping-pong coach.
     
    She had moved from China two-and-a-half years earlier to join her family in Hong Kong, but she could not fit in. The family of six lived in a cramped subdivided hut in a Kowloon squatter village but rarely communicated with each other. The difficulties of adjusting to colonial Hong Kong heightened the tensions between her parents. Feeling trapped and unloved, Sonia was too afraid to tell anyone about the rape. She saved money by working part-time at McDonald's and, a year later, she bought a one-way plane ticket to Taipei and ran away from home.
     
    The Girl Who Dreamed is a memoir of her childhood in mainland China, Hong Kong and Taiwan – and how, through work and further education, she found her way to an independent life away from the family and world from which she needed to free herself.
  • Love, Money and Friendships

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    In 1981, David Wong retired after 20 years as an administrative officer in the Hong Kong Government to chance his arm in the city’s cut-throat free market, as the managing director of a large multinational trading corporation. He soon discovered more legal and ethical boobytraps in business than he had bargained for. Nonetheless, he sidestepped them and in 1982, during the Sino-British negotiations to end British rule, he quickly sensed a unwarranted panic over the value of the Hong Kong dollar. He acted accordingly and made himself millions in weeks.

    Wong then visited different parts of China with friends. In the process he fell in love with a young and beautiful member of the Communist Youth League. When he tried to marry her, however, the mainland bureaucracy threw a host of obstacles in his path. After all, he was perceived as a capitalist from Hong Kong. But Wong’s friends used their collective guanxi with members of the Politburo to gain him permission to marry the girl. The title of this volume is aptly Love, Money and Friendships.

    Interlaced with Wong’s narrative are fascinating insights into aspects of China’s long and colourful history and culture.

    LOOK INSIDE THIS BOOK Click the following links to read excerpts from the book.

    Introduction

  • Roving Through Southern China: An American’s Explorations of Hong Kong, Macao and Canton in the early 1920s

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    By Harry Franck, introduced and annotated by Paul French
     
    No. 4 in the China Revisited series
     
    In the 1920s the American travel writer Harry A Franck was known to readers as the “Prince of Vagabonds”. His wanderings were family affairs and he arrived in southern China in 1923 with his wife, their two young children and his mother. Franck always claimed that his travel plans were random, subject to chance encounters and whatever caught his eye.
     
    He arrives in a Hong Kong which is building modern department stores and large houses while labourers sleep on straw mats beside the harbour. In Macao he visits temples, ancient forts and, of course, casinos. And then to Canton (Guangzhou), a city in flux where new buildings are transforming the waterfront, the ancient city walls are being demolished, and the traditional rookeries of small lanes are being replaced by wide asphalt roads as the city rapidly modernises. Franck also provides us with a highly detailed description of Shamian Island a year after the tumultuous strikes and boycotts that meant naval gunboats and barbed wire still protected the small foreign enclave.