“History doesn’t repeat itself, but it does rhyme.”
— Mark Twain

Charles Boyer and Loretta Young in 1935’s Shanghai – the Artwork

Posted: July 24th, 2017 | No Comments »

!935 saw the release of Shanghai with Charles Boyer, as a Shanghai financier, and Loretta Young as the love interest. To promote the film the studio released some specially commission artwork to the newspapers…

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Room 302, The Astor House Hotel, Shanghai

Posted: July 22nd, 2017 | No Comments »

Last week I blogged about the sad tale of Marshal Smith Hairston who, distraught at the loss of a child, committed suicide in room 302 of Shanghai’s Astor House Hotel in July 1936…courtesy of a China Rhyming regular reader, here is room 302 at the Astor – I can’t be sure they haven’t played around with the room numbers since 1936 but anyway…

 

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Information on the Official Midnight in Peking Walking Tour with Bespoke Beijing

Posted: July 21st, 2017 | No Comments »

Presenting Bespoke’s First Regular Public Tour: Midnight in Peking*

Bespoke may be known for its private tours, but sometimes we create one that’s such a smash hit we just have to share it with as many people as possible.
So we’re pleased to announce that our evening walking tour based on Paul French’s international bestselling murder mystery ‘Midnight in Peking‘ will now run as a regular public tour on the last Saturday of every month here in Beijing.

That means the next tour will take place on July 29th.
Tickets cost 388RMB per person.

Ticket details here

& Bespoke Beijing here

Bespoke’s brilliant long time collaborator – the historian Lars Ulrik Thom – has uncovered a raft of Chinese police reports relating to the case that even author Paul French hadn’t seen, making this tour a must for fans of the book.

Delving into the grisly death of Pamela Werner, the tour starts at the tragic family home of the Werners and winds its way through the hutongs to the spot where her body was found on a cold January night in 1937. Through a walk along Beijing’s old city walls and into the so called ‘Badlands’, you’ll uncover the truth about the characters who saw her on that fateful night, the depravity of Peking’s criminal underworld and the story of a city in utter chaos after the fall of the empire.

So what are you waiting for? We’re now taking bookings for the July and August tours. And with a limited number of spots available on each tour you’ll have to be quick not to miss out!

* = as I’ve been asked a few times – Yes, i think this tour is great; yes, it’s official; & yes, Penguin China supports it too.

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James Hadley Chase’s A Coffin From Hong Kong, 1962

Posted: July 20th, 2017 | No Comments »

Chase was a British author that, starting just before World War Two, began publishing pulp novels in the American hard-bitten style a la Hammett, Chandler and Cain. George Orwell thought him coldhearted and a worrying sign of both creeping Americanism and the commecialisation of crime in his 1944 essay Raffles and Miss Blandish. China Rhymers though with a taste for pulp crime novels might find his 1962 novel A Coffin from Hong Kong fun – it begins and ends in Pasadena but the bulk of the novel is set in late 1950s Hong Kong. And quite a good description of the city it is too – seedy hotels, Wan Chai bars, 3-class ferries, neon-lit Kowloon, refugees from Red China sleeping on the street corners, the old Repulse Bay Hotel and Lantau Island back in the day. There’s also a trip to Kowloon Walled City, some grizzled old Scottish colonial cops, landing at Kai Tak and a few good dinners along the way. All-in-all a pretty good speed read. Don’t let the covers put you off!!

 

 

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Royal Asiatic Society Shanghai – WINNING HEARTS AND MINDS: SOVIET PROPAGANDA IN CHINA IN THE COLD WAR – 20/7/17

Posted: July 19th, 2017 | No Comments »
Thursday, 20th July 2017
7:00 pm – 8:15 pm
Wooden Box

WINNING HEARTS AND MINDS: SOVIET PROPAGANDA IN CHINA IN THE COLD WAR

Guest: Alsu Tagirova

JOINT EVENT The Hopkins China Forum and RAS

Convened in cooperation with the Hopkins China Forum, this talk deals with the evolution of Soviet public diplomacy in China, its main techniques and mechanisms, and its efficiency with respect to changing political goals. This was an important aspect of relations between China and the USSR, where similar ideologies and conflicting national interests were at the core of the bilateral relationship. Drawn from doctoral research making use of recently declassified Chinese and Russian archival documents, memoirs and interviews, this talk will shed light on social processes in both China and the Soviet Union, communication between the state and its citizens, and the role that the latter played in the formation of foreign policy.

Alsu Tagirova is an Assistant Research Fellow at the Institute for Studies of China’s Neighboring Countries and Regions, East China Normal University. She has been Postdoctoral Fellow at the Centre for Cold War International History Studies at East China Normal University, and a Visiting Scholar at the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars in Washington, DC. She earned her BA from Kazan State University, and MA and PhD from Sun Yat-sen University. Her research interests include Sino-Soviet history and the Cold War, and her dissertation was on the history of Soviet Propaganda in China. Her current project is on the history of Sino-Soviet Border negotiations.

RSVP to Frank Tsai of China Crossroads : editor@shanghai-review.org

ENTRANCE: FREE
VENUE: Wooden Box; 9 Qinghai Lu (just to the South of Nanjing West Road) 青海路 9 号, 近南京西路, 地铁二号线南京西路站 Shanghai
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Winnie the Pooh, AA Milne, YR Chao and China

Posted: July 18th, 2017 | No Comments »

Poor Winnie the Pooh is getting blocked in China – you’ve read the story I’m sure and yes, Xi Jinping does look like Winnie a bit and probably hogs all the honey too. What is the official honey for state banquets?

However, nice chance to remember Yuen Ren Chao (1892-1982) a great Chinese scholar, teacher and translator. Chao knew everyone it seems – he was Bertrand Russell’s translator when the philosopher visited China in 1920. In 1925 he translated AA Milne’s (that’s the man who created Winnie the Pooh) one-act play The Camberley Triangle. Sadly it’s rather forgotten – both in the original and in translation. Wouldn’t it be lovely if he’d also translated Winnie the Pooh, but he didn’t. Instead Chao opted to translate Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass.

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Heads Up – My Contribution to the 80th Anniversary of Bloody Saturday

Posted: July 16th, 2017 | 1 Comment »

As this year is the 80th anniversary of Bloody Saturday (August 14th 1937) I thought I’d put together a “Penguin Special” reconstruction of that awful day from various eyewitness accounts of the dreadful bombings that hit the Palace and Cathay hotels on Nanking Road and then outside the Great World Amusement Centre over on Thibet Road in the French Concession. The eye witnesses include people caught up in the bombs, those that planned the raids on the Japanese flagship Idzumo that went horrendously wrong, journalists, hotel managers, firemen, police, Volunteer Corps members and others. It’s being published to coincide with the anniversary as Bloody Saturday: Shanghai’s Darkest Day….

Marking 80 Years since Shanghai’s Darkest Day

New Penguin Special by New York Times Bestselling Author Paul French

Published by Penguin Books China ISBN 9780734398550

Available throughout APAC from 7 August 2017 US$ 6.99 paperback,

E-book also available worldwide

On 14 August 1937 Shanghai’s history took a dark turn. As a typhoon approached the city’s horizons, so did bomber planes, and as citizens went about their daily routines, Shanghai experienced the worst civilian aerial attack to date. On that day, many lives were lost, and it is the eyewitness accounts of those that survived the violent attack outside the infamous Cathay Hotel close by the Bund and the Great World amusement centre in the French Concession that are reconstructed in a new Penguin short, Bloody Saturday. Paul French, an author known and awarded for a meticulous approach to narrative non-fiction, relives the day of horror that saw friendly fire tear the city apart.

Born and currently based in London, and educated there and in Glasgow, Paul French lived and worked in Shanghai for many years. He is a widely published analyst and commentator on China and has written a number of books, including a history of foreign correspondents in China and a biography of the legendary Shanghai adman, journalist and adventurer Carl Crow.

His book Midnight in Peking was a New York Times Bestseller, a BBC Radio 4 Book of the Week, and will be made into an international mini-series by Kudos Film and Television, the UK creators of Spooks, Broadchurch and Life on Mars.

Paul French is currently also working on City of Devils: A Shanghai Noir, which is centred on the dancehalls, casinos and cabarets of wartime Shanghai and is set to be published by Penguin China in November 2017.

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The ‘Shanghai Buster’…after Shanghai

Posted: July 15th, 2017 | No Comments »

I’ve blogged before about bad ass Bill Fairbairn, the creator of the Shanghai Municipal Police riot squad, expert knife fighter courtesy of some up-close-and-personal encounters in Shanghai’s back alleys (here). if you’re not familiar with the Shanghai Buster then just google him – he’s worth ten minutes of your time.

Anyway, Fairbairn of course had a life after Shanghai and was rather important in WW2 training commandos – both in Europe and America. A couple of books out recently mention his post-Shanghai activities and so China Rhyming readers might find them interesting….

Giles Milton’s Churchill’s Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare

Keggie Carew’s Dadland

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