The Fall of Shanghai by Noel Barber

This book takes a look at the splendor and squalor of the imperial city of trade and the 1949 revolution that swept an era away. 

To the moneyed Western gentlemen of commerce, it was a busy port brimming with the wealth of the Orient; to the spendthrift patron of its dazzling nightclubs and restaurants it was “the city that never sleeps; to the coolies milling about the waterfront it was the place to work hard and starve slowly. Old Shanghai was all of thee things and more – a city “above war and politics unless profit was to be made.” 

Few there, as 1948 drew to a close, saw in the approach of Mao Tse-tung’s armies a portent of radical , rending change. 

An open city until 1945, Shanghai teemed with more than thirty nationalities: German Jews mingled with White Russian aristocrats, Indians with Swedes. 

I loved this book and had the pleasure of reading it on a trip to Shanghai. I stayed at the old Cathay Hotel building and took a tour of the hotel. The history of the ballroom and the jazz club that still plays nightly was fabulous.

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