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.



ISBN: 9781408710036
Audience: General
Format: Paperback
Number of Pages: 384
Publication Date: 2 Jun 2020
Publisher: Little, Brown Book Group
Publication City, Country: London, United Kingdom
Dimensions (cm): 23.2(H) x 15.4(L) x 3.2(W)
Weight (gm): 460



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
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 Kings of Shanghai - a multigenerational 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 *


Author Biography

Jonathan Kaufman is Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter, editor and author. He is currently Executive Editor for Company News at Bloomberg News, overseeing more than 300 reporters and editors globally who cover technology, energy, autos, deals, industrials, consumer products, education, science and health. Projects he has overseen at Bloomberg have won numerous awards including finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, several George Polk Awards, an Overseas Press Club Award, a Gerald Loeb Award and Education Writers Association Grand Prize.

Prior to joining Bloomberg, Kaufman was deputy Page One editor at the Wall Street Journal and also served as the Wall Street Journal's China Bureau Chief, based in Beijing. He also served as Berlin Bureau Chief of the Boston Globe. As a reporter, Kaufman covered race and class issues in the workplace and on college campuses and wrote about race and women's issues in the extraordinary 2008 presidential campaign.

Kaufman has won numerous awards, including the Pulitzer Prize. He is the author of two well-reviewed books, A Hole in the Heart of the World: Being Jewish in Eastern Europe and Broken Alliance: The Turbulent Times Between Blacks and Jews in America, which won the National Jewish Book Award.
Kings of Shanghai

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