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China to Me

4.25 of 5 stars 4.25  ·  rating details  ·  60 ratings  ·  12 reviews
A revolutionary woman for her time, Emily Hahn takes us on an adventure through the many faces that populate the landscape of China. Blending fiction and non-fiction seamlessly, Emily Hahn looks at everything and everyone she met on her breath-taking journey through the China of the nineteen-thirties. Hahn investigates not so much the complicated issues of political blocs ...more
Paperback, 452 pages
Published December 1st 1999 by (first published 1944)
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Oh man this book is great. This is like the most ladylike book ever. It is ladylike as balls. In this incredibly ladylike memoir, Emily Hahn gets up to all sorts of ridiculous doings in China. You can look at any bio of her for the big picture, but it doesn't get across the blithe and casual way she runs her terribly topical and engaging social life. Best part: the copy I got has a newspaper clipping from 1945 with a picture of her and her pet monkey. The second half is some of the best war repo ...more
Emily (Mickey) Hahn's 'China to Me' memoir is bit of a puzzle. Is it a travelogue, a window into another society, a historical record? Was it written as a means of coming to grips with the sudden arrival in America after nearly a decade of living in Asia? Is it a catalogue of names and events recorded for posterity? She wrote:

Half the men I remember that night, horsing around, are dead,
and the girls are standing in line at Stanley with cup in hand,
waiting for a handout of thin rice stew.

According to Emily Hahn’s biographer, she “feverishly” wrote China to Me in just a few months, and it reads as if she’s recalling China in a breathless rush. It was, indeed, a breathless adventure.

At the outset I didn’t know what to make of this book. She opens by talking about her Hollywood hairdresser and then about the society pages of the Shanghai newspaper. What kind of a spoiled ditz have we here? I suspected she was like a chatty aunt who has traveled everywhere and could tell you of coun
Danielle McClellan
Emily Hahn is one of my all time favorite writers/women/adventurers and if I were an actress she is the one character that I would want to play in a film. In her autobiographical writing, Hahn is brutally honest about her complicated life and nobody could ever accuse her of taking the easy road. She talks about her decision to leave her comfortable home to move to the Southwest to become an engineer, and later, move to Asia, where she hooked up with a Chinese lover, a pet monkey, and a minor opi ...more
Amy VanGundy
This is essentially a travelogue from an American journalist/adventurer-ess in China prior to and during the Japanese invasion of China. The name Emily Hahn was unfamiliar to me, but upon doing some light research it was apparent that she was quite a woman!

The style of the book was a little off-putting at first. It is very "chatty" and extremely detailed in terms of people and places. It takes time to grasp all the people she describes only to have her then move to another city and introduce a
I was hoping that this memoir of an American woman living and working in 1936 Shanghai would be evocative of the time, but she spends a lot of her time writing sbout the socializing and local politics, all which would have been relevant to a reader at that time, but left me feeling kind of lost. Couldn't finish it.
Very interesting to hear first-hand experience of someone during the invasion of China by the Japanese and occupation of Hong Kong.
More interesting to read from a reporter's perspective at that time.
Even more interesting to read from a western, female reporter's perspective.
Wow, what an amazing life this woman lead, from the high life of an ex-pat in Shanghai in 1935 to starvation in Hong Kong under the Japanese. And all written without a self-pitying attitude, she was quite a character.
Snail in Danger (Sid) Nicolaides
From the jacket flap: "This book has not been condensed. Its bulk is less because of government paper quota regulations on all publishers."

It has an EH monogram embossed on the front cover.
Bill Robinson
Feb 28, 2008 Bill Robinson rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: everybody
I was a boy and learned about the adventures of a courageous woman missionary in China during WWII. I would like to know more about Emily Hahn, the author.
Jun 25, 2009 Angie is currently reading it
"Let the aesthetes sigh for Peking and their dream world."
Aug 16, 2009 Louis is currently reading it
Just starting this in bits and chunks.
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"Mickey" Hahn was called "a forgotten American literary treasure" by The New Yorker magazine; she was the author of 52 books and more than 180 articles and stories. Her father was a hardware salesman and her mother a suffragette. She and her siblings were brought up to be independent and to think for themselves and she became the first woman to take a degree in mining engineering from the Universi ...more
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