Empire Made Me An Englishman Adrift in Shanghai MOBI

Empire Made Me An Englishman Adrift in Shanghai I liked this book a lot and its one of the most uniue history books I have read Ostensibly taking as its subject the life of a relatively unremarkable British policeman in Shanghai during the 1920s the book is able to effectively discuss a wide range of issues I read this book whilst living and working in Shanghai And it does that thing that the best of non fiction does it's almost a novel Tinkler the figure at the centre of the narrative is not a sympathetic character being a racist and a bully but he is a compelling character Some of his views I'm sorry to say made uncomfortable reading when living in the ex pat community in Shanghai 70 years later despite the intervening world war and revolution I would strongly recommend this story especially to anyone who enjoyed JG Ballard's Empire of the Sun this book being almost a preuel So I finally finished the book In the end it was uite sad even as unlikeable and racist Tinkler became What ended up getting me through was the documentation of the rising presence of Chinese agitation and how the Communist and Kuomintang fighting changed Shanghai and empire life there irrevocably It was a conscious decision of the author to use pidgin English and outdated spelling for place names and streets in Shanghai For a reader outside of China this probably wouldn't matter but to constantly in my head think nanking nanjing or Hongkew Hongiao was distracting But I did it because making the connection between Shanghai in the 1920s and 1930s and the Shanghai of today was one of the interesting aspects of reading the bookAnyway the book remains an insightful portrait of English empire told from an unusual perspective of Shanghai and foreigners of the rise of the Communist and Kuomintang but a bit of a slog My lasting impression will be that while living abroad can expand one's experience and worldliness it can also bring out unappealing traits like racism and anger It's depressing that this fact hasn't changed much over the years and I wonder if it ever will A fascinating insight into one man's life in the turmoil of the mid 20th century that is well written and explained without dumbing anything down Its books like this that really bring history to life and shows you the wider picture when it comes to the effect the Empire had ion its own subjects as much as the Empire itself I've always been fascinated by Shanghai and its role in the 20th Century before during and after the war and I got a lot from this book in terms of daily life for an ex pat Shanghai policeman This book is an extraordinary portrait of an English ex soldier turned policeman in Shanghai 1919 Maurice Tinkler was a low ranking police officer whose career was not successful A violent racist he was untenable in the early 1930s After a period as an almost homeless heavy drinker he got a job as security officer and labour supervisor for a British industrial firm in Shanghai Being in an area outside the International Settlement the plant after 1937 was in Japanese occupied territory and it was by Japanese hands that Tinkler was killed in 1939 Empire was not kind to Tinkler but what struck me most in this book is how much Tinkler comes to life and how incredibly credible this portrait of a very ordinary though rather unsympathetic man is and how close his time comes to ours 'This is a biography of a nobody that offers a window into an otherwise closed world It is a life which manages to touch us all' Empire Made MeShanghai in the wake of the First World War was one of the world's most dynamic brutal and exciting cities an incredible panorama of nightclubs opium dens gambling and murder Threatened from within by communist workers and from without by Chinese warlords and Japanese troops and governed by an ever desperate British dominated administration Shanghai was both mesmerising and terribleInto this maelstrom stepped a tough and resourceful ex veteran Englishman to join the police It is his story told in part through his rediscovered photo albums and letters that Robert Bickers has uncovered in this remarkable moving book

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