6 Newly Released Books on China

By That's Shanghai, January 28, 2023

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Into the Dragon's Mouth

Benjamin Wood

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Ben Wood is a larger than life figure, an American architect who re-imagined both the heart of New York and the heart of Shanghai, and in this unique memoir, he tells a thousand outrageous and wonderful stories from the back blocks of the American South in the 1950s through to the glittering skylines of the 21st century. 

His design of the Xintiandi area of Shanghai set the standard for urban renewal across all of China’s cities, but that’s just the beginning of the amazing tales he has to tell in Into the Dragon’s Mouth.

A post-war Huckleberry Finn growing up in Georgia, Wood drove across the country while in high school, partook in the Summer of Love, and flew Phantom fighter jets with the USAF in Europe at the height of the Cold War. But his life’s work has been the re-imagining of urban life. Wood's approach to architectural design is unique and the stories around all he has done are colorful, thought-provoking and emotionally-driven.

Through this marvelous book, redolent of the style of the great Southern story-tellers, Wood weaves a deep wisdom and philosophy, as well as perspectives on China and the United States from one who has seen and done far more than most.

READ MORE: Ben Wood, the Man Who Made Xintiandi

The Suitcase 

Deborah Taussig-Boehner & Lauren Housman

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The Suitcase is a tour-de-force, an imagining of an autobiography of a Jewish Czech playboy, who avoided creditors and the Holocaust by moving to Shanghai. There he plays a role in the fight against fascism, and later continues that struggle in London and the States while his relatives die in the camps.

This is the true story of Vladimír George Taussig, an opportunistic man and a veteran of the Great War who made a series of unfortunate decisions in his native Prague that sent him fleeing to Shanghai. There, he fell in with high society – until the Japanese invasion, the beginning of World War II, encroached on the Shanghailanders’ rollicking lifestyle.

On the other side of the world, his family’s lives begin to disintegrate when Czechoslovakia was occupied and the horrors of the war reach their doorstep. Taussig joined the fight against Axis fascism.

From dancing on Shanghai’s Bund, to mingling with radio stars in New York City, to speaking out against fascism in speeches across Britain, this tale, pieced together from Taussig’s letters and other memorabilia, is one of passion and tenacity, weakness and courage, impropriety and decency, lies and truths, exclusion and tolerance, and life and death.

The Heavenly Sword

Alice Poon

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Set in a world of human conflicts, fantastical martial arts, sorcery and celestial magic, Alice Poon’s debut fantasy, The Heavenly Sword, follows a martial maiden’s heartbreaking adventures in her quest for love and justice. 

The goddess Chang’e is sent to the mortal world to stop the Sky Wolf Zhu Di’s plans to usurp the throne. Reborn as Tang Sai’er, a simple village girl, her celestial mission requires all that Sai’er can give, but in order to protect her family and the village people from the effects of Zhu Di’s brutal civil war, she must also fight a battle against her growing feelings for a member of the evil tyrant’s court.

When Sai’er and her allies pit themselves against the wicked new Emperor and other adversaries, including the vicious Green Dragon, Sai’er has to enlist the help of immortals. But even with their help, she finds that her dreams are on a collision course with her mission.

The Heavenly Sword is the first part of a spellbinding duology weaving Chinese mythical folklore and speculative history into a sweeping tale of family love, fellowship loyalty, loss, sacrifice and kung fu rivalry.

Tombstone Histories

Dan Ben-Canaan

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Tombstone Histories is a venture into the strange past of a great Chinese city. 

Harbin, established in northeastern China in 1898 by Russians and others, was for a time home to some 38 different national communities, before war and revolution destroyed their lives.

Harbin also became a safe house and waystation for Jews escaping pogroms and hatred in Europe, and Tombstone Histories presents the Jewish experience in the city in a personal and unforgettable way. It paints a revealing picture, never shown before, of Jewish daily life in this faraway and alien land; of how people functioned, struggled and sometimes thrived in a space that was so different and unfamiliar.

Tombstone Histories offers glimpses of the lives of the rich, the poor and those in between with daily stories and reminiscences of close to 60 families.

History so often ends up as just a series of tombstones, but this book provides the other side to the story – the personal details of lives which allow readers to draw their own conclusions about the human experience, especially survival.

The Oak Tree with Golden Leaves

Rebecca Clarke

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Rebecca Clarke had a solid career as a banker in her hometown of Hong Kong, but she gave it up to go to England and built her own business instead, providing guardianship for children from Hong Kong and China who were at school in the UK, and going on to set up a summer school.

She married an Englishman and had two sons, making a success of the difficult shift from one culture and world to another. Her story provides inspiration for the hundreds of thousands of Hong Kongers who have moved or are planning to move to England to remake their lives. 

Born in 1949, the eldest girl of nine children, Rebecca grew up with parents from Fujian Province who believed that girls are less important than boys. She took that as a challenge and grew up with a strong will to fight for equality, and a determined certainty that where there is a will, there must be a way.

She rejected her father’s suggestion of becoming a teacher and instead found a job in an American bank, before moving on to become a Vice President of an Asian bank. Then went England.

Rebecca’s story is a model in so many ways to people looking to remake their lives in a foreign land, learning to respect and love the new while still cherishing and celebrating her cultural roots.

Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society China

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The 2022 edition of the Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, China branch, including articles by Paul French, Duncan Hewitt, James Carter, Jeremiah Jenne, Graham Earnshaw, Sven A. Serrano, Julie Chun, George Godula, John Darwin Van Fleet, Yufeng Lucas Wu, Frances Wood and Edith Terry.


To purchase any of the above books (and to discover plenty more) visit www.earnshawbooks.com by clicking that link or scanning the QR code below:

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Or add Tash from Earnshaw Books directly:

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About Earnshaw Books

Earnshaw Books is a book publishing house founded in 2003 and based in Hong Kong, dedicated to publishing books on China and beyond that help to enrich the understanding of China’s history and culture. It was founded by Graham Earnshaw, a businessman, writer and musician with several decades of experience in the China world.

Earnshaw is well-known for his deep perspective on Chinese affairs, having first visited the China mainland in 1978. Over the years, he has been to every province and region of the country and has a deep respect for Chinese history, language and traditional culture. 

He moved to Hong Kong in 1973, learned to speak Cantonese and to read Chinese and worked as a reporter on the South China Morning Post. In 1976, he joined Reuters News Agency and worked in the Hong Kong and London bureaus before being assigned in 1979 to Beijing. 

Earnshaw served as Beijing Bureau chief for Reuters 1985-1987, Tokyo Chief Correspondent 1987-1989, and was the Reuters Asian Editor from 1990 to 1995, responsible for all reporting from Pakistan to New Zealand. He then set up his own company in Shanghai, SinoMedia Ltd.

He has written and published a number of books, including On Your Own in China (1984), Tales of Old Shanghai (2008) and an account of his continuing walk across China, The Great Walk of China (2010) and The Formosa Fraud (2017) about George Psalmanazar. His translation of the Jin Yong kung fu novel The Book and The Sword was published by Oxford University Press in 2004.

His Chinese name, 晏格文, was chosen by Jin Yong (金庸). He set up China’s first rock band in the early 1980s, and was the first foreign journalist to ever witness a sky burial in Tibet.

He has recorded a number of albums of his own songs, including Leap of Faith (1996), The Red Album (2011), and The Tao of Music (2013).

He speaks in public regularly, in English and in Chinese, on a variety of topics, including the Chinese economy and life in rural China. He has addressed MBA and other student classes at many of China’s top universities, including Tsinghua, Fudan and Nanjing. He speaks Mandarin and Cantonese fluently and his English is said to be acceptable.

His personal website is www.earnshaw.com and email graham@earnshaw.com

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