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Kings of Shanghai

Kings of Shanghai

Kings of Shanghai tells the story of two Jewish families – the Sassoons and the Kadoories – who immigrated to China in the mid­ nineteenth century and became dynasties of a sort, standing astride Chinese business and politics for more than 175 years.

The Kadoories were aristocrats while the Sassoons were essentially royalty, overseeing and governing the Jewish community in Baghdad across many generations. Forced to flee in the nineteenth century, the Sassoons spread out over central Asia, with two sons going to Shanghai following the Opium Wars to establish a business empire that would launch them into the upper echelons of the British establishment. The Kadoories followed soon after, their patriarch Elly first working for the Sassoons and then, after being fired, establishing a rival and equally successful trading company of his own.

Jonathan Kaufman traces the intersecting stories of the two families over the course of the next century as they gathered strength and influence through the Taiping and Boxer rebellions, weathered the fall of the emperor, blossomed during the Jazz Age and civil war, and resisted Japan’s brutal occupation and the ensuing Communist takeover.

Kings of Shanghai is at once the intimate story of two families and a sweeping account of how modern Shanghai was born.
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Genre: Humanities / History / General & World History

On Sale: 14th June 2020

Price: £20

ISBN-13: 9781408710029


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. This is the tale that Jonathan Kaufman tells in The Last Kings of Shanghai, his remarkable history of the Sassoon and Kadoorie families. Read it and the Bund will never look the same
Peter Hessler, author of Oracle Bones: A Journey Through Time in China
Jonathan 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 Last 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