Introduction; How Americas Most Famous Playwright Went to Shanghai, Fooled Everyone and had a High Old Time of It; Nearly Snubbed by Shanghai; Shanghai Gestures; A Warm Welcome for Charlie Chan; Two Poets Meet in Frenchtown; From Shanghai to Hollywood; The Beast Comes to Shanghai; Interpreting the Shanghai Mind; Red Sojourners at the Zeitgeist Bookstore; Weimar on the Whangpoo; Murder in the Shanghai Trenches; Bobby Broadhurst Teaches Shanghai to Dance; Mans Fate and the Shanghai of the Absurd; Shanghais Most Charming Gangster; A Showgirl, Bloody Saturday and the Shrapnel Swing; Manouche on the Route Vallon: The Gypsies of Shanghai (1930s/1940s); Bored in the Broadway Mansions; The Last Refuge: How Americas Biggest Ever Swindler Ended Up in Shanghai; Appendices.
Paul French was born in London, educated there and in Glasgow, and lived and worked in Shanghai for many years. His book Midnight in Peking was a New York Times bestseller, a BBC Radio 4 Book of the Week, a Mystery Writers of America Edgar award winner for Best Fact Crime and a Crime Writers Association (UK) Dagger award for non-fiction. His book City of Devils: A Shanghai Noir has received much praise, with The Economist writing: in Mr French the city has its champion storyteller. Both Midnight in Peking and City of Devils are currently being developed for television. Stories from Destination Shanghai have been serialised on RTHK Radio 3. Strangers on the Praia is being developed for film.
Paul French's entertaining Destination Shanghai relates 18 stories
of Westerners in Shanghai during the 20th century, some of them
famous, others unknown. ... French is fastidious in his research
and provides much illuminating detail - both historical context and
narrative minutiae - where it is available, so we learn, for
instance, precisely which bars American playwright Eugene O'Neill
visited on an epic pub crawl. ... It is the individuals usually
omitted from the city's grand narra-tive, though, that often make
for the most interesting reading, help-ing to compensate for the
preponderance of Western voices in a book about a Chinese city.
French shows sensitivity for the less privileged: members of the
hitherto obscure 30s-40s Roma community, for example, who mostly
made a living in entertain-ment, and who we know of only because
Romany entertainers were considered fashionable and so tended to
advertise their ethnicity, rather than obscuring it to avoid
prejudice. ... Similarly, a section on poets Langston Hughes and
Irene West casts light on the forgotten contribution of
African-Americans to the culture of Shanghai in the 30s. Hughes'
1938 poem "Roar, China!", with its fierce condemnation of both
Japanese militarism and Western colonialism, neatly pricks the
bubble of golden-era Shanghai. French never neglects this side of
the story, in particular the monstrous poverty and exploitation
that underpinned the freewheel-ing international glamour of the
city's Western enclaves.--Richard Lord "South China Morning Post
The breadth of French's research into the world of Shanghai in the first half of the 20th century is conspicuously evident in Destination Shanghai, a collection of eighteen biographical essays which catalogue the visits of a range of foreigners to the city. These range from stars of the screen, such as Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks, to writers like Andre Malraux, Arthur Ransome and Langston Hughes, and oddballs such as the English occultist (and amateur mountaineer) Aleister Crowley. Perhaps most compelling are those who French drags back from relative obscurity, such as the actor Warner Oland--a Swedish American who ended up playing a Hawaiian Chinese detective: Charlie Chan. Oland was a big star in the 1930s, both in America and China: Lu Xun apparently never missed a screening of a new Chan movie. When Oland arrived in Shanghai aboard a steamship, he told the waiting press how happy he was to be visiting the land of his ancestors. The motivations of those who traveled in search of Destination Shanghai were diverse, and their experiences distinct; the pieces coalesce however to form an esoteric, scholarly and enjoyable portrait of the city and a miscellaneous cast of its storied visitors.--Jonathan Chatwin "Asian Review Of Books "