A gripping tale of Sodom sliding towards its bloody end

By  | 

The good times rolled

City of Devils: The Two Men Who Ruled the Underworld of Old Shanghai. By Paul French. Picador; 320 pages; $28. Riverrun; £16.99.

EVEN during its heyday in the 1930s, the Shanghai of legend seemed to live under a premonition of death. After all, the treaty port was born of a monstrous crime: it was the prize foreigners claimed after the Qing dynasty resisted Britain’s efforts to force opium down Chinese lungs. The legend died after Pearl Harbour, engulfed by Japan’s total war. Everyone in Shanghai had seen the storm clouds gathering: Depression in the United States, fascism in Europe, Japanese aggression eating into China. Yet, for a while, these woes seemed to be chances for the city to prosper—and to party as if there were no tomorrow.

Gone by then was all talk of Shanghai as a light to lead China out of heathen darkness. By the early 1930s international Shanghai was, as Paul…Continue reading

Powered by WPeMatico