“In vivid detail… examines the little-known history of two extraordinary dynasties.”–The Boston Globe
“Not just a brilliant, well-researched, and highly readable book about China’s past, it also reveals the contingencies and ironic twists of fate in China’s modern history.”–LA Review of Books
An epic, multigenerational story of two rival dynasties – the Sassoons and the Kadoories – that flourished in Shanghai and Hong Kong as twentieth-century China surged into the modern era, from the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist. These two Jewish families, both originally from Baghdad, stood astride Chinese business and politics for more than 175 years, profiting from the Opium Wars; surviving Japanese occupation; courting Chiang Kai-shek; and losing nearly everything as the Communists swept into power. In The Last Kings of Shanghai, Jonathan Kaufman tells the remarkable history of how these families participated in an economic boom that opened China to the world, but remained blind to the country’s deep inequality and to the political turmoil at 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.
Jonathan Kaufman is a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter who has written and reported on China for thirty years for The Boston Globe, where he covered the 1989 massacre in Tiananmen Square; The Wall Street Journal, where he served as China bureau chief from 2002 to 2005; and Bloomberg News. He is the author of A Hole in the Heart of the World: Being Jewish in Eastern Europe and Broken Alliance: The Turbulent Times Between Blacks and Jews in America, winner of the National Jewish Book Award. He is director of the School of Journalism at Northeastern University in Boston.
In partnership with the Falmouth Jewish Congregation, the Worcester JCC and Jewish Book Council.