Champions Day: The End of Old Shanghai
It is quite the challenge to focus on a single day throughout a whole book, but James Carter rises to the occasion. Champions Day: The End of Old Shanghai sets the scene for the final showdown at the Shanghai Race Club, joyfully patronized for generations by residents of the International Settlement. Only ‘foreign’ men though, as neither women nor, believe it or not, Chinese could become members.
The date was November 12, 1941, a point between Sun Yat-sen’s establishing the new order and the bombardment of Pearl Harbor. We are poised for Champions Day and taken back to the beginning of the international presence, as people from far away established themselves on the fringes of Shanghai, geared up for mercantile success with a colonial lifestyle.
Today, with so many options for leisure activities, on and off our electronic devices, we may look back with surprise at the options offered then. Horse and pony racing were the biggest draw, and Carter includes maps of Shanghai during the 1930s showing the location of the race track and the residential quarter, almost insignificant before the city expanded to the north. The three-day race meetings were held twice yearly and drew thousands of spectators.
While the racetrack and the parallel structure built by and for the Chinese to enjoy in the northeast quadrant of the city were the primary attraction, the book delves into so much more, including profiles of many individual citizens and their involvement in the city’s business and social life. The chapters provide an academic history and a striking glimpse of a small, privileged community doubtless unaware they had reached the end of their glory days.
|Page Count||352 pages|
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