Shanghai Diary
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Shanghai Diary

4.1 of 5 stars 4.10  ·  rating details  ·  326 ratings  ·  64 reviews
By the late 1930s, Europe sat on the brink of a world war. As the holocaust approached, many Jewish families in Germany fled to one of the only open port available to them: Shanghai. Once called "the armpit of the world," Shanghai ultimately served as the last resort for tens of thousands of Jews desperate to escape Hitler's "Final Solution." Against this backdrop, 11-year...more
Hardcover, 117 pages
Published September 28th 2004 by Dark Horse Books (first published July 1st 2002)
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ETA: I also highly recommend: The Distant Land of My Father
My review:
This gives you another perspective of Shanghai during the war!

Now that I have finished the book, I think I will give it 4 stars. You know me, I hand out those stars VERY stringently. Furthermore, I am swayed by my emotions - this book feels best as a book I "liked a lot", rather than being "amazing"! Let me explain. This book covers the 8 years and 3 months that the author spent as a chi...more
Jan 28, 2011 Barbara rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Rose, Leah, Gail
Recommended to Barbara by: Chrissie
I received this shopworn copy from the library today and plunged right in. It reads like a novel! Much more will be added as I get further along, but I am "hooked"!

Most people are familiar with the WW II Holocaust literature involving European Jewish people and other victims, but this book relates the saga of those who sought shelter in Shanghai. It was especially of interest to me because my family has members who immigrate...more
Mediocre writing, but very interesting story. After having read so many holocaust memoirs centered around Euopean refugees, it was a new perspective to see it from the Asian front.
Fascinating story about a bit of history that I knew nothing about. Ursula Bacon was 10 in 1939 when she and her parents escaped Nazi Germany and fled to Shanghai. It was the only place left that would accept Jewish refugees, and 20,000 of them ended up there, leaving everything behind and trying to build a life in the Shanghai ghetto. Starting out with very little money, no knowledge of the language and customs, shocked at the level of poverty and disease, they managed to find friends, create j...more
This book taps into an unknown but fasinating aspect of World War II, the refugee Jews in Shanghai. Unfortnuatley I found the writing style to be slightly repetative and infused with cliched descriptive adjectives. The tone was too child-like through-out which prevented the reader from regarding with respect and awe the author's experiences in extraodinary times. This was also aggravated by the fact that some experiences were described in a dead-pan rush which left the reader cheated (think abou...more
Miss GP
I was surprised how much I enjoyed this book, and how quickly it moved along. Often first-person accounts get mired in things the author thinks is important, but which the readers really don't care that much about. Such was not the case with this book. The story was fascinating from start to finish, and I learned a bit of history about which I'd been ignorant.
I'm almost finished with this book and I've been enmeshed in the story. This book makes one really think about what it's like an American and how persecution existed in both China and here during the McCarthy Era. I'm really enjoying it.

I highly recommend this book
I am drawn to stories of the WWII era and especially those from the Pacific.

This is the true story of Jewish refugees who fled Germany and lived out the war in Shanghai. I did not know that this had happened. The story is told from the point of view of the author who was only 10 when they first arrived. She grew up quickly, too quickly.

I enjoyed Ursula's plain writing. She vividly described the culture shock experienced by these Europeans now living among the Chinese. She brought me into that...more
Charmaine Anderson

I decided while reading this book that I like books about real life experiences, especially if I don’t know much about the time period. I didn’t know that as many as 20,000 Jews escaped Hitler’s clutches by traveling to China during Hitler’s reign of terror. If you had a boat ticket to China it was even possible to get out of a Nazi prison.

Ursula Bacon is 10 years old when her family escaped to China in 1939. The story moves from their opulent home in Germany to the boat passage and on to the c...more
Laura Hancock
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
It was an interesting book to read, to see what type of refuge Shanghai was during WWII. Many people didn't know how many Jews were allowed to come here - so that was interesting. The author starts off the story with almost an apology that she never really felt right in writing this because so many suffered so much, but she wanted to add to the historical record. And it was really true - so it was nice she prefaced with that.

One of the most interesting parts was that most of the "horrible condit...more
I always like autobiography novels, and I learned a lot more about WW2 through this book than I did in school. How interesting to flee Germany and end up in Shanghai.

favorite quotes to remember:
"anybody can sign and dance and celebrate in good times. That's easy, and we don't give it much thought. But when we are able to celebrate life in any form in bad times, in means to me that we can rise above our circumstances and express our indestructbile spirit and the gift of life itself." author's mot...more
Having visited the Shanghai Jewish Museum and touring the neighborhood before reading this book gave Ursula's tale so compelling for me! When so many Jews were turned away from other countries because of quotas, Shanghai opened its doors to thousands upon thousands of Jews who were lucky enough to escape death in Germany and other countries that Hitler took over. While the Shanghai Museum portrayed a haven for the Jews, Ursula's refugee tale was quite different. Her family lived in poverty, in a...more
Donna Johnson
This is an amazing memoir about a teenagers life on the run from the Nazis. Even though I have studied a lot about the Holocaust, this is the first time I had ever heard of the "Shanghai Jews". It's amazing how vivid Bacon's memories are despite the fact that she was only 11 when she left Germany for Shanghai. Also amazing (and this always amazes me) is the human spirit that we see in this book. Despite the fact that her family and friends were in such a desolate situation, they continued to rea...more
Another wonderful gift from my friend Carol. Ursula’s family narrowly escaped Nazi Germany in 1939. They fled to Shanghai where they remained until moving to the United States in 1947.

This memoir describes their flight, the shock of arrival, life in the relative comfort of the French Concession, and their struggle to survive the abysmal conditions of the Hongkew ghetto. Ursula is eleven when they arrive; this is where she grows up. Her education comes from learning how to navigate this strange w...more
Ally Armistead
"Shanghai Diary"--the memoir of a Jewish girl who flees from Nazi Germany to war-torn Shanghai--is 2 out of 5 stars for me. I REALLY wanted to like this more, but the accounts of Ursula are detached and told in generalities, which make it difficult to enter her world fully. The best and most interesting parts of the book are the details about the unsanitary conditions of the Shanghai refugee districts in the 40s (the disease, the rats, the starvation) and the appearance of a Eurasian Buddhist mo...more
I read this book for my English class so many years ago. It's one of those books that you will never forget.
This was certainly a different Holocaust story--the Jewish author and her parents managed to escape Germany right before the beginning of WWII by taking a boat to Shanghai, China, where there was a sizable refugee community. Thy were allowed to live there by working and had a fairly comfortable life for a while, but eventually the Japanese forced them into a ghetto with bad conditions. Still, better than Auschwitz, and all three of them survived and eventually were able to get to America. Unusua...more
Deb Neely
I liked this book immediately as Ursula Bacon writes in a compelling, and action packed way. At times I felt she skipped over some detail and feeling, but overall she captured the gravity and drama of European Jews moving to Shanghai during the 1930s-1940s. The characters are extremely colorful and well drawn and the ending is satisfying, yet predictable. If you are interested in WWII history, this gives you information on a lesser known aspect of this time period.
Kind of a slow start so I rated it at 3 by the time I finished I upgraded it to 5 stars.
11yr old Ursula & her family escaped the Hitler regime and ended up in Shanghai, China March 1939, 8,000 mi away from Germany.
Japanese eventually occupied Shanghai.
In 1947, 2 yrs after the war ended, they boarded a troop transport 'SS Gordon', finally on their way to America. They ended up living in Denver, CO.
This is another story about a Jewish family who escaped persecution by fleeing to Shanghai during World War II. The author of this story has an optomistic approach to life, which I throughly enjoyed. Many good and bad things happen to her and her friends while she is in Shanghai. She has many insights into the Chinese character and I think some are still true today.
This book, despite the numerous typos and errors throughout, (maybe a proof copy) was an excellent account of Ursula Bacon's experiences as a young girl leaving Nazi Germany during WWII for Shanghai with her mother and father. Bacon described her experiences concisely but gave wonderful, full descriptions of life in Shanghai in the 1940s. I liked this book very much.
Apr 01, 2008 Kass rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: everyone who thinks their life is tough
A unique book about a young Jewish girl who moves from war-torn Europe to a Shanghai ghetto in the 1940's. A well-told and extremely fascinating piece of history. Imagine if Anne Frank and her family had fled to China to live in the slums. Very highly recommended. Five stars for the story, four for the writing.
I learned a lot about a part of wwii I never knew existed while reading this book, but I didn't think Ursula was a very good writer. I borrowed it from the library and someone had corrected many of her facts and claims in pencil, so she didn't seem very reliable. Wasn't a big fan of her style.
Sue Nelson
The son and daughter-in-law of the author are friends and I got this book through them. It is the story of a Jewish families forced journey to find sanctuary. The different life styles they had and created are interesting as well as the explanations of the areas they settled in along that journey.
A wonderful heartrending memoir about perserverance. A young girl narrowly escapes Hitler's holocaust but the only place open to her and her family was Shanghai. From great wealth to the slums, Ursula shares her harrowing story and determination for survival in a world full of hate.
I learned that this author used the word "ersatz" so many times that I actually noticed the word each time I read it in the story, and continue to notice this word EVERY TIME I SEE IT!! I am very interested in reading memoirs from the Holocaust, and this was a new twist. Worth a read.
Apr 16, 2008 Selena rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommended to Selena by: Heather
Interesting to hear how WWII affected other regions of the world and how China was the only country to open its doors to the Jewish refugees. Despite the horrible living conditions the Jewish people had to endure, they proved as many did in Europe, that humans are strong.
Fantastic true story about a jewish girl and her family who flee Nazi germany to Shanghai. I didn't even know there were Jews there but there was a whole colony. There hardships there are unbelievable and her story is excellent. Highly recommend this book.
I had no idea of this event. I love how she uses words and really, really enjoyed this book and think it would be enjoyed by all. It was given to me by a friend and I am grateful to have read it and to have learned so much in an enjoyable way.
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