Kings of Shanghai

Kings of Shanghai

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Publisher Reviews

 What's even less likely than a clan of displaced Baghdadi Jews who find themselves in twentieth-century Shanghai and change it forever? Try two clans of displaced Baghdadi Jews. Read it and the Bund will never look the same -- Peter Hessler, author of Oracle Bones

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 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 The Kings of Shanghai - a multi-generational 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