A satisfying juggling act of academic research and engaging popular history.



A distillation of the international flavor of old Shanghai and its sublimated race relations through one wartime day of celebration, mourning, and horse racing.

Carter, a history professor and fellow of the National Committee on U.S.–China Relations, focuses on Nov. 12, 1941, when “three crowds gathered in Shanghai…in different locations and with very different motivations” but all “represent[ed] tremendous change amid the crises engulfing China.” It was the time of Japanese occupation, yet the International Settlement, the 3-square-mile area that served as an extraterritorial colony sheltering foreigners amid the bustling Chinese city, remained technically neutral. The Settlement was also the host of the vaunted Shanghai Race Club, whose last Champions Day race was held on this day. This event, ably portrayed by the author, drew the first—and largest—crowd. Originally established in 1850 by British residents who had elbowed their way into Shanghai commerce after the Opium Wars, the SRC gained popularity over the next few decades as more foreigners flocked to the prosperous city and horse racing grew in popularity among the Chinese. Excluded from joining the SRC, in the early 1900s Chinese merchants founded the International Recreation Club, located outside the IS, allowing the members to bypass “the complicated politics of the all-but colony.” The second crowd was celebrating the birthday of the late Sun Yat-sen (d. 1925), father of republican China, whose legacy was being co-opted by the city's Japanese occupiers. The third crowd was attending the ornate funeral of China's wealthiest woman, Liza Hardoon, “the half-Chinese, half-French Buddhist widow of a Baghdadi Jewish merchant, whose death symbolized the passing of a generation that had seen Shanghai rise to global prominence.” Carter, whose knowledge of Chinese history and culture is abundantly clear, moves fluidly back and forth between the historical perspective and the bitter moments when Japanese occupation would eclipse the city's once flamboyant heyday.

A satisfying juggling act of academic research and engaging popular history. (45 illustrations)

Pub Date: June 16, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-393-63594-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Norton

Review Posted Online: April 12, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2020

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...


Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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For Howard Zinn, long-time civil rights and anti-war activist, history and ideology have a lot in common. Since he thinks that everything is in someone's interest, the historian—Zinn posits—has to figure out whose interests he or she is defining/defending/reconstructing (hence one of his previous books, The Politics of History). Zinn has no doubts about where he stands in this "people's history": "it is a history disrespectful of governments and respectful of people's movements of resistance." So what we get here, instead of the usual survey of wars, presidents, and institutions, is a survey of the usual rebellions, strikes, and protest movements. Zinn starts out by depicting the arrival of Columbus in North America from the standpoint of the Indians (which amounts to their standpoint as constructed from the observations of the Europeans); and, after easily establishing the cultural disharmony that ensued, he goes on to the importation of slaves into the colonies. Add the laborers and indentured servants that followed, plus women and later immigrants, and you have Zinn's amorphous constituency. To hear Zinn tell it, all anyone did in America at any time was to oppress or be oppressed; and so he obscures as much as his hated mainstream historical foes do—only in Zinn's case there is that absurd presumption that virtually everything that came to pass was the work of ruling-class planning: this amounts to one great indictment for conspiracy. Despite surface similarities, this is not a social history, since we get no sense of the fabric of life. Instead of negating the one-sided histories he detests, Zinn has merely reversed the image; the distortion remains.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1979

ISBN: 0061965588

Page Count: 772

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1979

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