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A triptych of a single day revealing the history and foreshadowing the future of a complex and cosmopolitan city in a world at war.
November 12, 1941: war and revolution are in the air. At the Shanghai Race Club, the city’s elite prepare to face off their best horses and most nimble jockeys in the annual Champions Day races. Across town and amid tight security, others celebrated the birth of Sun Yat-Sen in a new city center meant to challenge European imperialism. Thousands more Shanghai residents from all walks of life attended the funeral of China’s wealthiest woman, the Chinese- French widow of a Baghdadi Jewish businessman. But the biggest crowd of all gathered at the track; no one knew it, but Champions Day heralded the end of a European Shanghai.
Through this colorful snapshot of the day’s events, the rich and complex history that led to them, and a cast of characters as diverse as the city itself, James Carter provides a kaleidoscopic portrait of a time and a place that still speaks to relations between China and the West today.
About the Author: James Carter, professor of history at Saint Joseph's University, is the author of two previous books on Chinese history, and is a Fellow of the National Committee on US-China Relations.
“More captivating than a day at the races, James Carter offers a sweeping ride through Shanghai's tumultuous history, its quasi-colonial social scene and, of course, the iconic Race Club. Every visitor to the city should read this book to know whose footsteps came before in People's Square.” - Helen Zia, author of "Last Boat Out of Shanghai: The Epic Story of the Chinese Who Fled Mao's Revolution"
“Could it really be possible to encapsulate the nuanced story of old Shanghai in one day? James Carter proves it can and, through the lens of Champions Day, 1941, at the Shanghai Race Club, reveals the myriad histories of this controversial and problematic century-long urban experiment in east-west fusion.” - Paul French, NYT bestselling author of "Midnight in Peking" and "City of Devils"
“A unique view of an extraordinary city at an electrifying moment in time. Thoroughly researched and colorfully rendered, Champions Day shows off Old Shanghai in all its irresistible glory and eccentricity. ” - Claire Chao, author of "Remembering Shanghai"