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Hong Kong

3.84  ·  Rating Details ·  163 Ratings  ·  18 Reviews
In its last days under British rule, the Crown Colony of Hong Kong is the world's most exciting city, at once fascinating and exasperating, a tangle of contradictions. It is a dazzling amalgam of conspicuous consumption and primitive poverty, the most architecturally incongruous yet undeniably beautiful urban panorama of all. World-renowned travel writer Jan Morris offers ...more
Paperback, 320 pages
Published February 4th 1997 by Vintage (first published 1988)
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(showing 1-30)
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Sep 23, 2014 Jeffrey rated it it was ok
Shelves: travel
This book is a mix of history and some contemporary portraits of colonial Hong Kong. The book focuses almost exclusively on British personages and mundane colonial details and really never gets around to exploring the Chineseness. I was really disappointed by this. The book is also dated, curiously fixates on arcane and somewhat random details and quotes and does not shed much light on the actual people of Hong Kong (aside from the aristocracy and business elites). Barely got through it on my tr ...more
Apr 23, 2013 Odette rated it liked it
Greatly enjoyed this book especially since I read this right before a trip to HK.
Saša Tomislav
Jul 15, 2016 Saša Tomislav rated it really liked it
Pretty good book summing up the history and development of Hong Kong since it's establishment up to year 1997. From it's start, it's been a business oriented place, shameful as it were, from the despicable practice of British Empire's opium trade to the modern financial centre, it's always been a special place, distinct from any other British colonies, while seen as a unjust theft by the China.

While a really good writeup on development of Hong Kong, objectively examining the causes of it's chan
May 21, 2012 Chris rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Even though the cover of the edition I have sports the subtitle ‘Epilogue to an Empire’, the correct subtitle to Jan Morris’ Hong Kong is ‘The End of an Empire’, more accurate in that even this 1990 updating still long preceded the handing over of the colony to mainland China in 1997, a truer encapsulation of the eclipse of Empire. What this revision does do, however, is to take into account the social and cultural repercussions of the Tiananmen Square massacre which took place in the year which ...more
Aug 23, 2015 Aaron rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
The first half of the book attempts to give a general overview of the history and founding of the colony, with mixed success - Morris' dreamy and lackadaisical presumptions about what happened in the past ("It was probably like this..." "You could likely see..") simply left me with a bland taste in my mouth, like chewing on newspaper. I'm not sure what I was expecting (I think I was hoping for some talk about the dynamic culture of the 1980s especially - none of that here, though), but the endle ...more
Nov 11, 2013 Love rated it really liked it
Jan Morris is my favorite historian, in this travel book she visits Hong Kong shortly before 1997 when it is about to be turned over to the Chinese government. Morris is a great historian of the British empire, many of her books focusing on Queen Victoria's 1897 diamond jubilee. Which Morris repeatedly argues was the very high point of the Empire, where the institution reached its peak. If this is true then 1997 with its turnover of Hong Kong to Red China might be seen at the end of the Empire. ...more
Matt Seidholz
Apr 28, 2013 Matt Seidholz rated it really liked it
Jan Morris called Britain's handling of the 1997 handover of Hong Kong "sufficiently stylish". I think that's meant to be faint praise.

Funnily enough, that's the exact phrase I'd use to describe her book. But my praise isn't faint.

Morris has a lot of love for word-play and a lot of love for Hong Kong. The prose is luxurious and the history enlightening.

A powerful strain of colonial nostalgia pervades the book. Morris never lets us forget, though, Britain's exploitative history with China, and th
Lois Wolffe
Mar 15, 2014 Lois Wolffe rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favourites
Is there any better travel writer than Jan Morris?

Reading the first chapters of this book before I travelled to Hong Kong was exciting - all the sights and sounds I could anticipate... and all that history I was absorbing before I walked those streets.

But then reading the middle of it while I was there was even better. I was in Hong Kong through work, and was at many meetings discussing HK's history, and how the Scots had influenced and moulded it. Although there is little in JM's book on this p
I wanted very much to like this book because I adore the author, but it just wasn't a hit for me. It's a bad sign when I find myself reading the New York Times health page to get my reading fix, instead of opening my current book. The best thing about this book was also the worst thing: too much detail. In certain places the level of detail was exciting, bringing the feel of Hong Kong right into my head. In far more places it made my mind wander, and was quite effective at putting me to sleep at ...more
May 24, 2015 Artur rated it it was amazing
Very slow-moving (in a good way), extensive look at Hong Kong. There are some gaps, I would say; I would love to read more about the Chinese population, for example, maybe by someone belonging to that culture – but Jan Morris can grasp the way a place feels like nobody else. I know that I will be coming back to that book, dipping in to read a section or two at a time. What a great journey, I really enjoyed it.
Joshua Rigsby
Morris interposes descriptions of Hong Kong's founding with the status of Hong Kong in its waning years as a colony in the late 1980s. Many of the descriptions and speculations are necessarily dated, but the early wrok examining the origins of the colony (my reason for reading the book) were still quite good.
Jul 16, 2016 Hadrian rated it liked it
Series of vignettes on the city's colonial history and its situation up to 1997 on the eve of the handover. Focuses a tad much on the British elites and less on the 98% of the city who was Chinese, but still interesting in how it portrays the city as heterogeneous and a place of contrasts.
Cloe Stone
Apr 16, 2016 Cloe Stone rated it it was amazing
Great read, I referenced it for my extended essay.
It's very, very descriptive and detailed when it comes to this author's representation of Hong Kong from the context of the time and the perspective of this author.

Jan 25, 2010 pjr8888 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
great travel literature
i wish i had gone when i had the opportunity then
Jamie Elgie
Apr 15, 2014 Jamie Elgie rated it really liked it
Beautifully written. Easy to get through. Liked it a lot.
Trevor Poe
Dec 15, 2013 Trevor Poe rated it it was amazing
A great book about one of my favorite cities.
Aug 10, 2008 Kevin rated it really liked it
This is the book that hooked me on this author. Jan has a fun style, and a great eye for the real pleasures of travel. I recommend if you like travel literature.
Justin Howe
Jul 14, 2013 Justin Howe rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A fascinating read. I'll need to track down a later edition to see whether Morris updated the final chapter.
Edmund Cornu
Edmund Cornu rated it it was amazing
May 24, 2014
Burak Sarac
Burak Sarac rated it really liked it
Dec 22, 2016
Sallie Gouverneur
Sallie Gouverneur rated it it was amazing
Sep 24, 2007
Scott rated it liked it
Jul 22, 2010
Murmeli rated it liked it
Dec 08, 2014
Arnold rated it it was amazing
Dec 24, 2007
Betti J
Betti J rated it liked it
Nov 15, 2016
Nathan rated it it was amazing
Oct 08, 2012
Danielle McClellan
Danielle McClellan rated it really liked it
Feb 17, 2012
144a rated it really liked it
Feb 01, 2014
Matthieu de Wit
Matthieu de Wit rated it it was amazing
Oct 02, 2016
Nick rated it liked it
Nov 29, 2009
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Jan Morris previously wrote under the name "James Morris".

Jan Morris is a British historian, author and travel writer. Morris was educated at Lancing College, West Sussex, and Christ Church, Oxford, but is Welsh by heritage and adoption. Before 1970 Morris published under her former name, "James Morris", and is known particularly for the Pax Britannica trilogy, a history of the British Empire, and
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