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Empire Made Me: An Englishman Adrift in Shanghai
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Empire Made Me: An Englishman Adrift in Shanghai

3.76  ·  Rating details ·  66 Ratings  ·  6 Reviews
'This is a biography of a nobody that offers a window into an otherwise closed world. It is a life which manages to touch us all...' Empire Made Me

Shanghai in the wake of the First World War was one of the world's most dynamic, brutal and exciting cities - an incredible panorama of nightclubs, opium-dens, gambling and murder. Threatened from within by communist workers and
Paperback, 410 pages
Published June 3rd 2004 by Penguin Group (CA) (first published January 26th 2003)
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Ian Chapman
Jan 03, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Interesting history of the city of Shanghai and of British colonial policing methods. Professor Bickers does not however give ex-inspector Tinkler enough credit, portraying him as something of a low level imperialist brute. After leaving the police, Tinkler became head of security for a big British industrial firm. With Japanese efforts to influence Chinese politics by fomenting industrial unrest, Tinkler confronted a detachment of Japanese marines. When some junior executives tried to remonstra ...more
Arjen Taselaar
Jan 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This book is an extraordinary portrait of an English ex-soldier turned policeman in Shanghai, 1919. Maurice Tinkler was a low-ranking police officer whose career was not successful. A violent racist, he was untenable in the early 1930s. After a period as an almost homeless heavy drinker, he got a job as security officer and labour supervisor for a British industrial firm in Shanghai. Being in an area outside the International Settlement, the plant after 1937 was in Japanese-occupied territory, a ...more
Jun 17, 2013 rated it it was ok
So, I finally finished the book. In the end, it was quite sad, even as unlikeable and racist Tinkler became. What ended up getting me through was the documentation of the rising presence of Chinese agitation and how the Communist and Kuomintang fighting changed Shanghai - and empire life there - irrevocably. It was a conscious decision of the author to use pidgin English and outdated spelling for place names and streets in Shanghai. For a reader outside of China this probably wouldn't matter, bu ...more
Nov 16, 2015 rated it liked it
Sharp insight and a novelistic flair for characterization. But it's so poorly written that I couldn't quite enjoy it. Very dense, very dry and badly in need of an editor. I recommend it for people who care about the era he's chronicling - otherwise, don't even try.
Joshua Marney
May 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
I liked this book a lot, and its one of the most unique history books I have read. Ostensibly taking as its subject the life of a relatively unremarkable British policeman in Shanghai during the 1920s, the book is able to effectively discuss a wide range of issues.
Mar 20, 2009 rated it it was amazing
A fascinating insight into one man's life in the turmoil of the mid 20th century that is well written and explained without dumbing anything down. Its books like this that really bring history to life and shows you the wider picture when it comes to the effect the Empire had ion its own subjects as much as the Empire itself. I've always been fascinated by Shanghai and its role in the 20th Century before during and after the war and I got a lot from this book in terms of daily life for an ex-pat ...more
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Robert Bickers is Professor of History and Director of the 'Historical Photographs of China' project at the University of Bristol.
More about Robert Bickers...