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Night in Shanghai

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3.63 of 5 stars 3.63  ·  rating details  ·  357 ratings  ·  99 reviews
In 1936, classical pianist Thomas Greene is recruited to Shanghai to lead a jazz orchestra of fellow African-American expats. From being flat broke in segregated Baltimore to living in a mansion with servants of his own, he becomes the toast of a city obsessed with music, money, pleasure and power, even as it ignores the rising winds of war.

Song Yuhua is refined, educated,
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Hardcover, 278 pages
Published March 4th 2014 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (first published January 1st 2014)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,864)
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Aditi
A forbidden love story set in the backdrop of Japanese invasion in Shanghai will totally going to awe your mind by its passion, pain and sacrifice amidst of war and bloodshed. Nicole Mones, an American author, has penned down a riveting love story based on the true events during the Japanese invasion in Shanghai in 1936.

If you want knowledge, you must take part in the practice of changing reality. If you want to know the taste of a pear, you must change the pear by eating it yourself.... If yo
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Erin
Find this and other reviews at: http://flashlightcommentary.blogspot....

I am thoroughly captivating by WWII. Fiction or non, it doesn't matter. If it relates to the war, it's a safe bet I'm in, which is what led me to Nicole Mones' Night in Shanghai.

Set against the glitz and glamour of China's jazz age, the book highlights a world rarely seen, a lifestyle and atmosphere about to fall victim to war and years of Japanese occupation, but this is only the beginning of its appeal.

Mones explores the
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Susan
Nicole Mones is one of my favorite writers. I've enjoyed her other novels and was excited to read "Night in Shanghai", not just because I love her writing, but also because it's a time period that I find fascinating.

This story, unlike others from WWII Shanghai, features a black jazz musician from Baltimore. Thomas Greene was one of many jazz musicians who found acceptance in 1930s Shanghai, a place without the segregation laws and other prejudices of the US. Greene falls for Song, an English-spe
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Cheryl
Another book that I picked because I wanted to read it. I was in the mood for a good love story set in a foreign area. Sadly this book was not for me. I tried really hard to want to love or even like this book as I read so many did like this book. I did not fall in love with the characters. It was the location that did win me over. However this was not enough for me to stick with this book after a while. It started out slow. I then jumped a few chapters and started reading again. I was starting ...more
Dewayne Stark
Found the book in the new section of South Pasadena Library. I don't Google an author until I have finished the book and after I finished the book I went to the author's web site (http://www.nicolemones.com/) and found a very nice series of photographs about the story line of the book showing several of the real characters and places that are within the novel.

One page 143 I ran across the use of the word "microsecond". At that time (pre-1940) microsecond was a technical term that denoted 10-6 t
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Kris
Well, I found yet another WWII perspective that I knew nothing about... While this book was confusing to read at times (especially all the Chinese and Japanese names), I was able to follow enough to understand what was going on. Loved the American jazz musicians and later the Shanghai Jews. As all of her books, I was fully engaged with the characters and learned a lot.
Frishawn Rasheed
Night In Shanghai is the story of a Shanghai on the precipice of war, a man between worlds, and a woman of opposing loyalties.
Nicole Mones has managed to seamlessly interlace the stories of African American band leader, Thomas Greene, interpreter and servant, Song Yuhua, and the onslaught of WWII.
Having just one of the above mentioned aspects of this epic tale handled with the historical precision, lyrical voice, and descriptive eye of a seasoned storyteller, would be enough to delight any reade
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Carol Atta
Amazing work of historical fiction. I could literally smell the spicy scent of Shanghai and hear the music. What a n adventure. I hated that it had to end.
Amy
"Casablanca" set in China. This book included a history lesson I hadn't heard before: the Chinese (Nationalists) had a plan to save 100,000 Jewish refugees from Europe by settling them in Yunnan. I knew Shanghai took in many (25,000) refugees. I didn't know that, if Chiang Kai-Shek hadn't caved in, there could have been many more.

This was so surprising to me that I thought the author was making it up, to add drama to the last third of the book. While the first half or so of the book does a very
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Lissa
I had the good fortune of attending a lecture put on by our local library in which Nicole Mones discussed her current novel and the historic events it covers, so of course I was thrilled to receive a copy of this novel through the Goodreads Firstreads Giveaway. During the years leading up to and entering into World War II, Shanghai was a fascinating mix of music, dance and international flair. Jazz musicians, primarily African Americans, were enticed to play in clubs for better pay and more free ...more
Susan Weinberg
Loved this book! I've read everything by Nicole Mones and this is one of my favorites. Beautifully written and very well researched. Filled with historical figures and spans a part of history with which I lacked much familiarity. A glimpse into the international city of Shanghai in the late 1930s and early 1940s with a focus on the black Americans in the jazz scene. This story soon intertwined with Japan invading China, the German and Austrian Jews escaping to Shanghai and the divisions between ...more
Susan
Final rating: 3.5 stars!

This is one of books that sounds like perfection i.e. if you like historical fiction. An interesting setting: Shanghai in the early 1940's, jazz, the build up to war(not that war is a good thing) and a hint of romance. And starting out I thought this was a love story based on the Prologue/first chapter. But that really isn't the crux of this narrative. Ms Mones does a good job of describing Shanghai, one can tell she did her research and also that she does have a good gr
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Erin Al-Mehairi
Night in Shanghai, by Nicole Mones, was a wonderful original and inspiring story. It featured a forbidden love story, but yet had so many other layers as well. It dealt with racism, the arts, culture (esp Asian vs. Western), war, servitude.

As much as I love history, and even really like Asian history, it was completely different to me for her to feature black musicians in the Chinese Jazz Age. I didn’t even know China had a jazz age, or any racism towards African-Americans. It was so wonderful o
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Scott
The Japanese invasion and occupation of China during the late 1930s through World War II is one of the most depressing, haunting events in modern history - see Iris Chang's "The Rape of Nanking," or the 2011 film, "City of Life and Death." These are stories that will chill your bones and invoke the word "holocaust," which is not a word to be bandied about lightly.

And so it was with some trepidation that I picked up Nicole Mones' "Night in Shanghai," a novel that opens in the nervous days where t
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John Rogers
Most work on Shanghai focuses on high Shanghai, the 20's through late 30's, ending when the party stopped in '37, when the Japanese rolled in after a heroic resistance. Shanghai's story becomes a long slow sad tune after that , finally truncated brutally in the post-war period when, well, it was not smart to be a decadent city in Mao's China.

Nicole Mones in NIGHT IN SHANGHAI does something I haven't encountered before -- she begins just before the fall of Shanghai, setting up the jazz musicians
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Monica
Four stars for the handling of historic scenes that have been mostly neglected - the lives of African American jazz musicians in Shanghai in the late 1930's, where they were accepted and free in ways that were unthinkable in the US, and the role the Chinese played in rescuing European Jews from Nazi persecution. Mones' well researched accounts of both make the book worth reading. Her descriptive writing about Shanghai culture, music, food, and life is wonderfully vivid. The imagery lingers.
She l
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Kila
Very good read. I grew up in the 50s & 60s so I was taught very little about China, this book told a great story while weaving a whole lot of history I never heard. Ho Feng-Shan saving over 1000 Jewish families from Nazi Austria should be taught in every school, along with the 1938 Evian conference where every country, including the U.S.A. and Great Britain refused to increase their immigration quota of European Jews. All 32 countries refused except Dominican Republic and Shanghai, which was ...more
Michelle
Interesting fictional glimpse into a little-known (at least for me) facet of WWII history. In the late 1930s, African-American jazz musicians were recruited from the U.S. to live in high style, replete with mansions and servants, in Shanghai. The music scene was exploding at the time, despite the seriousness of the political problems surrounding the area and the encroaching invasion by the Japanese. I was not familiar with this Chinese jazz age, nor the existence of the Shanghai Jewish refugees, ...more
Julie
This is a good, light read against a historical backdrop. Call it “Historical Chick Lit,” if you must. The story takes place in Shanghai as the Japanese invasion looms, WWII is on the not-so-distant horizon and Communists are at odds with the Nationalists. It revolves around the star-crossed lovers of Thomas and Song who are part of Shanghai in its intercontinental heyday. A time when jazz was the music of choice and you could tour the world by walking through the city. The story provides insigh ...more
Julie
Oh, for a half-star, for this is really a three-and-a-half star read. It's set in Shanghai (not so suprising) between the late 1930s and the early 1940s. When I began the book I couldn't have told you one thing about Shanghai during that period. Now I do. The book is very well researched and is full of interesting things. This does, at times, make it rather a lot of work to keep up with. You need to keep track of a number of characters and the complicated politics. The protagonist is an African ...more
Diana
I always learn a lot (about China, mostly) when I read Nicole Mones' books. This one introduced me to an astonishingly interesting and vivid city. Shanghai in the 1930s was an open port, with a thriving International District. It was full of money, jazz clubs, dangerous women and political intrigue. Communists jockeyed for position against Chiang Kai-Shek’s Nationalist party, powerful crime gangs fought each other, and the Japanese army had long been an increasingly menacing presence in the city ...more
Jennifer
I won this book as part of Goodreads first reads giveaways, and I read this while on vacation, and that was the reason for my delay in reviewing.

The writing in this book was fantastic, probably some of the best writing I've read in a book I've gotten as a giveaway. I could tell by reading this that the author has a true passion for history and music, and there was a nice fluidity through the years. The incorporation of politics was threaded through the plot well, starting slow and ending with a
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JayeL
This one didn't grab me like The Last Chinese Chef, but the premise was really interesting. I didn't know anything about China and World War 2. I actually, much to my chagrin, thought they were completely out of it because of the rise of Chiang Kai-Shek, Communism, etc. I also thought the juxtaposition about the way black people were treated in the US vs. Shanghai at the time was a really interesting aspect of the story. There were so many things in this story that I would like to read more abou ...more
Stacey D.
One of my favorite authors, in Night in Shanghai, Mones captures the noctornal spirit of a lost time: Shanghai in the late 1930's. It was a city that was ahead of its time; a sort of mini-NYC, but with a multicultural feel and a freewheeling, exotic diversity. Thomas Greene, a black pianist from Baltimore, finds love and freedom in Shanghai, as do his contemporaries.

The novel showcases Thomas, plus a wonderful cast of characters, including Anya, Song, Du, Li and the Epsteins. It takes place prim
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Vontel
Excellent and captivating historical novel about Shanghai and its' international colonies primarily, although China as well, pre and during WW2, from the black jazz musicians recruited from the US, through to the tension between the Nationalist (Chiang Kai-shek)and the Communist party, and the invasion in the north by Japan in the early to mid 1930's, to the impact of Germany, WW 2 and the policies regarding Jews. The fortunate few were able to escape via Austria and the Chinese consul there, wi ...more
Renata
Mones has written a thoroughly captivating book set in Shanghai in the late 1930's just before and the during the Japanese take over of the city. We arrive on Shanghai w Thomas a young Afr Am musician, classically trained, who is being thrust into a jazz band when he knows little about jazz and its improvisational riffs and tempos. Mones is a fabulous writer and we are swept away w Thomas on this incomparable personal adventure as a musician, social adventure freed from racial prejudice - in fac ...more
Monica
This book talks about Shanghai during Japan's invasion of China,and all the different power stuggles and the lives of the three main characters. Thomas Greene, a black American piano player(from Baltimore :) ) Lin Ming, the son of a mob boss who is also Thomas boss; and, Song, an indentured servant. All of them were interesting and well written, but what really made me give it 3 star was it took a little to long for my liking to get to the main points. Still,some of the little historical facts l ...more
Ace
I don't think the writing was that great, but gosh, the author deserves so much credit for her ability to put together historical events, people and places in such a way that made me wish that the fictitious characters were real.

I love music, especially Jazz and I could not help being carried away by the night life of exotic Shanghai and wished I was there. Yes, it would have been dangerous considering that it was WWII, but ... so exciting and so glamorous.

As the main character Thomas Greene lea
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Connie
I have read all of Nicole Mones's previous books, loving every one, and looked forward to this one; however, it fell short of the mark for me. Although the book was superbly researched and well-written, I could not connect with the characters. There was no warmth or inner psychological depth to the hollow characters that made me care about them. This is unusual for Mones, and I wonder if it is because she was writing from a male perspective for the first time or because she was so involved in th ...more
Trudi
I liked this one a lot. It's Shanghai just before and then during the Japanese occupation during WWII. Thomas Greene, a Black American musician, is recruited to come to Shanghai to be a bandleader. He finds himself treated with much more respect than in his home country. And through his eyes, we see what is happening in the Chinese community - the division between the Nationalists and the Communists, the influx of Jews from Europe, the effect the occupation has on all the inhabitants. Although t ...more
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“He had heard it sure enough, wailing underground in clubs and speakeasies, all through Prohibition, hot, polyphonic, toe-tapping, full of syncopated rhythms and bent, naughty notes—perfect for small and secret spaces.” 1 likes
“An inch of gold can't buy an inch of time” 1 likes
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