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

The Diaries of Evans F Carlson – Royal Asiatic Society, Shanghai

Posted: August 4th, 2019 | No Comments »

Fascinating – as I didn’t know such diaries existed!

Evans F. Carlson is one of the great forgotten figures of the Second World War. A soldier since the age of 16, he was a confidant of the Roosevelt family, the subject of a 1943 Hollywood blockbuster, and the man responsible for introducing the word Gung Ho into the English lexicon. Although he died in 1947, he has the unlikely distinction of being remembered as a hero by both the U.S. Marine Corp and the Communist Party of China.
In 1937–1938, Carlson travelled across China as an official observer for the U.S. Navy, including many months accompanying patrols of the Communist 8th Route Army in Japanese-occupied North China. He held extended discussions on military and political strategy with Mao Zedong and other future leaders of the PRC, as well as with Chiang Kai-shek. He consorted with radicals, diplomats, peasants and missionaries.
Carlson recorded these experiences in daily diary entries, which are now transcribed and edited for upcoming publication. In this talk, Evan Taylor will explore the fascinating life of Evans Carlson and forgotten moments of co-operation in China in the first years after Japanese invasion.
Evan Taylor is a writer and historian of 20th century Diplomatic History and U.S.–China relations. He was a researcher for the primary document book series 外国观察者眼中的中共抗战:美军观察组延安机密档案 (The Chinese Communist Party’s War of Resistance in the Eyes of Foreign Observers: The Secret Files of the U.S. Military Observer Group in Yan’an) and the editor of the book 美国与中共的心理战合作 (Psychological Warfare Collaboration between the U.S. and the Chinese Communist Party), published in 2019 by Shanghai Yuandong Publishing Company.

Entrance fee: Members: Free; Non-members: RMB100

Venue: Garden Books, 325 Changle Road, near Shaanxi South Road 长乐路325号,近陕西南路

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H.G.W. Woodhead – Opinionated and Prolific

Posted: August 3rd, 2019 | No Comments »

A blog post by me on the excellent Visualising China site run by Bristol University….on HGW Woodhead, a most particular old China Hand and newspaper editor who didn’t mind the odd controversy or feud and for many years edited the Peking and Tientsin Times – http://visualisingchina.net/blog/2019/08/01/h-g-w-woodhead-opinionated-and-prolific/….

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Philip Cracknell’s Battle for Hong Kong, December 1941

Posted: July 25th, 2019 | 1 Comment »

Out now is a new history of the fall of Hong Kong and the final battle from Philip Cracknell…

On the same day as the Pearl Harbor attack, forces of the Japanese Empire attacked the British Crown Colony of Hong Kong without warning. Philip Cracknell provides a research-driven narrative about the Battle for Hong Kong in 1941, which commenced on 8 December and lasted for three weeks until the surrender on Christmas Day 1941. Hong Kong had become a strategic liability, an isolated outpost. It would be sacrificed but not without a fight. The main priorities for the British in Asia were Malaya and Singapore. The Crown colony was gallantly defended but it was a battle against overwhelming odds.

Crucially, as a resident of Hong Kong for thirty years, the author knows every inch of the ground. He challenges some assumptions, for example the whereabouts of A Coy, Winnipeg Grenadiers on 19 December, when the company was destroyed during a fighting retreat.

What exactly happened and where were the actions fought? One can still see so much evidence, in the form of pillboxes, gun batteries and weapons pits. Bullets and other relics can still be picked up lying on the ground. The defending troops mainly consisted of British, Canadian, Indian and Hong Kong Chinese. Dozens were massacred, including over fifty St John s Ambulance personnel – a grim pointer to the hell of the Pacific war that followed. Over the following nearly four years of occupation, an estimated 10,000 Hong Kong civilians were executed. The battle for Hong Kong is a story that deserves to be better known.

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Feel Like a Brandy in old Shanghai? – Domecq on Jinkee Road…

Posted: July 23rd, 2019 | No Comments »

Spain’s Domecq brandy was having a marketing push in 1930s Shanghai….The brand was distributed by Sino Spanish Trading – who’se telegraph number was “Sinospan”, by the way.

Sino Spanish was on Jinkee Road (now Dianchi Lu) – that street is an oddity in Shanghai and remains a narrower street than most of the grander thoroughfares that run west from the Bund. The first streets laid out running off from the Bund were originally named in alphabetical order to make them easy to remember; among them Canton, Foochow, Hankow, Kiukiang, Nanking, Peking and Soochow Roads running from south to north. However, at a later date Jinkee, between Nanking and Peking Roads, was created by turning a formerly private lane that led to the offices of the British traders Gibb, Livingston & Company Ltd into a public street. Gibb, Livingston’s Hong, or trading, name was ‘Jin Kee’. It seems that the alphabetical order first used to lay out Shanghai’s road system had been forgotten and so the name was never changed.

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Time Out Shanghai’s 6 essential books for your Shanghai bookshelf

Posted: July 22nd, 2019 | No Comments »

Very good company to be in…..https://mp.weixin.qq.com/s/uh6Gkoy5TcOs9ID3cgR19Q

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FIVEONE Car Hire in 1930s Shanghai…

Posted: July 21st, 2019 | No Comments »

FIVEONE Car Hire was up on Pingliang Road (Pingliang Lu)in Y’Poo (Yangpu) out to the north-east. Sensible place if you got a bunch of cars need to be parked up, i guess. FIVEONE obviously chimed with their phone number. Pingliang Road was always an interesting mix of people – FIVEONE plus a lot of workers’ accommodation (a cluster of narrow lanes, which were still there five or six years ago but looked like maybe it might go) for Shanghai No.10 Cotton Mill workers and staff residences for the Shanghai 1st Knitting Factory and the Shanghai Worsted Mill, some godowns for China Tobacco and some army barracks for the Chinese 7th Battalion. It was the edge of the Settlement but a busy area.

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Los Angeles Chinatown…a few random photos…

Posted: July 20th, 2019 | No Comments »

LA’s Chinatown is an interesting place. Unlike just about every other “New” Chinatown I can think off LA’s was built from scratch so they were able to craft everything from the street names to the doorways. Visiting on a Monday afternoon I have to say the place had the feel of a sort of Chinese themed English seaside resort slightly out of season and also has something of the marvelous large-scale folly about it reminding me, perhaps oddly, of Clough Williams-Ellis’s Portmeirion in North Wales (Italianate rather than Chinese, but maybe you get the comparison)….

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The ‘Restoration’ of Vertinsky’s old Gardenia Club….

Posted: July 19th, 2019 | No Comments »

I’m posting these photos taken by Shanghailander Graham Keelaghan of the ongoing building works along Yuyuan Lu (Yu Yuan Road as was) of the building that was Alexander Vertinsky’s Gardenia Club. As the location features in my book City of Devils quite a few people have asked if it still exists, where it was etc – so here you go – head down to the Jessfield Park (Zhongshan Gongyuan) end of Yuyuan Lu and it’s on the southern side of the street, set back slightly…..

As you can see the building has been mucked about with quite a lot – first with the 40 years of total neglect after 1949 then various ‘remodellings’ and ‘refurbishments’ with poor craftsmanship and shoddy materials in the 1990s and early 2000s. Now it’s getting the ‘fresh and new’ makeover (though sans wooden window frames sadly) as Yuyuan Lu emerges as some sort of ‘flat pack hipster’ destination. As you all know – as far as serious preservation goes – there are few hard and fast rules on exteriors and next to none on interiors in Shanghai

The Gardenia – in its heyday….
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