I was very pleased to receive a message today from my publisher with a PDF file of a highly favorable and attentive review of Shanghai's Dancing World. The review was published in the most recent issue of the American Historical Review. Please click here to download the PDF file of the review. The reviewer is Xiaoqun Xu of Christopher Newport University.
Yesterday I noticed a blog that referenced my book Shanghai's Dancing World along with some other clips and images of 1920s-30s Shanghai (the blogger also had some nice things to say about an interview podcast I participated in for the Shanghai Lit Fest in March 2010, which I greatly appreciated). Among them was a British Movietone Newsreel from 1929 showing elegantly dressed Chinese couples in a garden cafe dancing to a Western jazz orchestra. I immediately recognized it as the Majestic Hotel outdoor garden (I am not quite 100 percent sure of this, but sure enough to make that claim) and the orchestra would be Whitey Smith's, even though the conductor's head is cut off in the clip (you can see his body and up to his neck, but I couldn't identify him as Smith). Whitey features prominently in my book, and most of the information I found about him comes from his own memoir, I Didn't Make a Million.Read More
Once in a while I scan the Net for news about my book, to see if anybody out there is actually reading it, and today I was happy to find it listed as a "page turner." This isn't the first time I've heard such news. In the past few months since the book came out, a few people have approached me to say that they'd read it cover to cover. These people aren't academics. Then again, academics never read anything cover to cover. They only read the index and poach what they need to write their own pieces. Mea Culpa. Anyhow, it's good to know that all the work I put into the book over the years wasn't entirely in vain. It's funny though, the woman who wrote this piece seems to think that I began my career as a bartender in the Far East and then decided to write a book about nightlife. No mention of a PhD in Chinese history or anything like that. Still, I'm not complaining, and she's not entirely off the mark. I did do a lot of bartending early on in my life as a grad student, including a stint at a hostess bar in Sapporo. Someday maybe I'll have time to write a memoir about that experience...
The prestigious journal China Quarterly just published the first review of my new book _Shanghai's Dancing World: Cabaret Culture and Urban Politics, 1919-1954_. The reviewer, Kerry Brown, was kindly sympathetic to the arduous task involved in researching and writing this book, and he concentrates on describing the effort it took to assemble a picture of the ephemeral and fleeting cabaret industry from so many different sources. I thank him from the bottom of my heart for his kind words, and above all, for getting the picture!