Kings of Shanghai (Hardback)Jonathan Kaufman (author)
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'A masterpiece of research, The Last Kings of Shanghai is a vivid and fascinating story of wealth, family intrigue, and political strategy on the world stage from colonialism to communism to globalized capitalism' Susannah Heschel, Eli Black Professor of Jewish Studies, Dartmouth College
An epic, multigenerational story of two rival dynasties who flourished in Shanghai and Hong Kong as twentieth-century China surged into the modern era
Shanghai, 1936. The Cathay Hotel, located on the city's famous waterfront, is one of the most glamorous in the world. Built by Victor Sassoon - billionaire playboy and scion of the Sassoon dynasty - the hotel hosts a who's who of global celebrities: Noel Coward has written a draft of Private Lives in his suite, Charlie Chaplin entertained his wife-to-be, and the American socialite Wallis Simpson reportedly posed for 'glamour' photographs. A few miles away, Mao and the nascent Communist party have been plotting revolution before being forced to flee the city.
By the 1930s, the Sassoons had been doing business in China for a century, rivaled in wealth and influence by only one other dynasty - the Kadoories. These two Jewish families, both originally from Baghdad, stood astride Chinese business and politics for more than one hundred and seventy five years, profiting from the Opium Wars; surviving Japanese occupation; courting Chiang Kai-shek; and nearly losing everything as the Communists swept into power. In Kings of Shanghai, Jonathan Kaufman tells the remarkable history of how these families ignited an economic boom and opened China to the world, but remained blind to the country's deep inequality and to the political turmoil on their doorsteps. In a story stretching from Baghdad to Hong Kong to Shanghai to London, Kaufman enters the lives and minds of these ambitious men and women to forge a tale of opium smuggling, family rivalry, political intrigue and survival.
Kaufman believes that as China's power grows and its rivalry with the US intensifies, understanding what shaped China from the end of the First Opium War in 1842 that opened China to the West, to the communist takeover in 1949, is essential in understanding how the country ticks. Through propaganda, he suggests that China has erased part of its financial history. The Sassoons and Kadoories trained a generation of Chinese in global capitalism when the rest of the world was falling in to depression, paving the way for China's success today.
Publisher: Little, Brown Book Group
Number of pages: 384
Weight: 580 g
Dimensions: 236 x 154 x 36 mm
Jonathan Kaufman brings to life the extraordinary forgotten history of two Jewish families who helped transform China into a global economic powerhouse. A masterpiece of research, The Last Kings of Shanghai is a vivid and fascinating story of wealth, family intrigue, and political strategy on the world stage from colonialism to communism to globalized capitalism -- Susannah Heschel, Eli Black Professor of Jewish Studies, Dartmouth College
An illuminating book * The Economist *
Complementing histories of modern China that focus on political developments, Kaufman uses a rich mix of materials including memoir and private correspondence to bring us the people who greased the wheels of change . . . [the Sassoons and Kadoories'] part in the development of modern China offers drama enough to make them worthy of our attention. Kaufman ensures that they gain and retain it, with a well-paced narrative and plenty of helpful historical context * Telegraph *
This heady era is brought vividly to life in Jonathan Kaufman's Kings of Shanghai - a multigenerational epic of the Sassoon and Kadoorie dynasties, which rightly takes business out of the shadows and puts it at the heart of modern China's history. The book is excellent too on China's tumultuous history - the pernicious colonial influence, the collapse of Imperial China, and the Communist Revolution, which swept away both families' Shanghai holdings. Victor Sassoon never recovered but the Kadoories had hedged their bets and invested early enough in Hong Kong to start again. Kaufman deserves praise for highlighting a story that ought to be better known * Financial Times *
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