December 4 @ 2:30 pm - 3:30 pm
By the 1930’s, the Sassoons had been doing business in China for a century, rivaled in wealth and influence by only one other dynasty–the Kadoories. These two Jewish families, both originally from Baghdad, stood astride Chinese business and politics for more than one hundred seventy-five years, profiting from the Opium Wars; surviving Japanese occupation; courting Chiang Kai-shek; and nearly losing everything as the Communists swept into power. In The Last Kings of Shanghai, Jonathan Kaufman tells the remarkable story of how these families ignited an economic boom and opened China to the world, but remained blind to the country’s deep inequality and to the political turmoil on their doorsteps. In a story stretching from Baghdad to Hong Kong to Shanghai to London, Kaufman enters the lives and minds of these ambitious men and women to forge a tale of opium smuggling, family rivalry, political intrigue, and survival. He also tells the triumphant story of how they joined to rescue and protect eighteen thousand Jewish refugees fleeing Nazism.
Jonathan Kaufman is a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter who has written and reported on China for thirty years for The Boston Globe, where he covered the 1989 massacre in Tiananmen Square; The Wall Street Journal, where he served as China bureau chief from 2002 to 2005; and Bloomberg News. He is the author of 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, winner of the National Jewish Book Award. He is director of the School of Journalism at Northeastern University in Boston.