Bookshelf: Charity and Sylvia by Rachel Hope Cleves

As a historian and a reader, my favorite “relaxation” books are the ones that spotlight unknown or unusual personal stories that complicate what we think we know about the past. Sure, I’ll read an analysis of the origins of the Boxer Uprising or a monograph on everyday life in twentieth-century Shanghai—and both of those books … Continue reading Bookshelf: Charity and Sylvia by Rachel Hope Cleves

A Weekend in Pingyao, Part II: A Journey of Ten Thousand Steps

Pingyao’s most notable feature is its centuries-old city wall, which stands ten meters high, a fortress of sloping brick—brown in some lights, gray in others—topped with crenellations through which cannons could be shot if the city needed to defend itself. The six-kilometer-long wall would form a square, if not for its squiggly southern edge. Six … Continue reading A Weekend in Pingyao, Part II: A Journey of Ten Thousand Steps

Look Like a Shanghai Girl in Six Easy Surgeries

Go into any antique market here in Shanghai and you’ll find plenty of reproduction posters featuring the famous “Shanghai Girls” of the 1920s and ’30s. These were calendars and advertisements for products like alcohol, cigarettes, soap, and so forth that featured qipao-wearing beauties with pale skin, pinned-back wavy hair, and a gentle demeanor. The Shanghai … Continue reading Look Like a Shanghai Girl in Six Easy Surgeries

LA Review of Books: China’s Forgotten World War II

I wound up doing a sort of sequel to my China’s Forgotten WWI post for the LA Review of Books China Blog, this one looking at—no surprise here—China’s forgotten WWII. The new post is a Q&A with Oxford historian Rana Mitter, author of Forgotten Ally: China’s World War II, 1937–1945. I’ve used this book a … Continue reading LA Review of Books: China’s Forgotten World War II