The Best Books About Hong Kong

Posted by PSR_AXP 5 mths ago
Fragrant Harbor
by John Lanchester
It is 1935, and Tom Stewart, a young Englishman with a longing for adventure, buys himself a cheap ticket aboard the SS Darjeeling-en route to the complex and corrupt world of Hong Kong. A shipboard wager leads to an unlikely friendship that spans seven decades as Hong Kong endures the savagery of the Japanese occupation, emerging as a crossroads of international finance and the nexus of a world of warlords, drug runners, and Chinese triads.
East and West: The Last Governor of Hong Kong on Power, Freedom and the Future
by Chris Patten
'Patten's East and West is a must for anyone who wants to understand the forces that will shape the world of the 21st century.' New York Times
A Many-Splendoured Thing
by Han Suyin
A Many-Splendoured Thing tells the story of a married British foreign correspondent called Mark Elliot (Ian Morrison in real life and based in Singapore where he lived with his wife and children) who falls in love with a Eurasian doctor originally from Mainland China who trained at the Royal Free Hospital Medical College in London University, only to encounter prejudice from her family and from Hong Kong society.
On the surface it is a love story but there is an historical perspective relating to China, Hong Kong and the peoples and societies that populated the island. This includes many who have fled from the final stages of the Chinese Civil War, both Chinese and Europeans long settled in China.
It portrays an insight into class and race prejudice that is as relevant today in Hong Kong as it was in the fifties. Although it is technically a novel, the book is strongly autobiographical. Han Suyin's real life lover was killed in The Korean War in 1950. Two years later, she married Leon F. Comber, a British officer in the Malayan Special Branch
Gweilo: Memories Of A Hong Kong Childhood
by Martin Booth
Martin Booth died in February 2004, shortly after finishing the book that would be his epitaph - this wonderfully remembered, beautifully told memoir of a childhood lived to the full in a far-flung outpost of the British Empire...
An inquisitive seven-year-old, Martin Booth found himself with the whole of Hong Kong at his feet when his father was posted there in the early 1950s. Unrestricted by parental control and blessed with bright blond hair that signified good luck to the Chinese, he had free access to hidden corners of the colony normally closed to a Gweilo, a 'pale fellow' like him. Befriending rickshaw coolies and local stallholders, he learnt Cantonese, sampled delicacies such as boiled water beetles and one-hundred-year-old eggs, and participated in colourful festivals. He even entered the forbidden Kowloon Walled City, wandered into the secret lair of the Triads and visited an opium den. Along the way he encountered a colourful array of people, from the plink plonk man with his dancing monkey to Nagasaki Jim, a drunken child molester, and the Queen of Kowloon, the crazed tramp who may have been a member of the Romanov family.
Shadowed by the unhappiness of his warring parents, a broad-minded mother who, like her son, was keen to embrace all things Chinese, and a bigoted father who was enraged by his family's interest in 'going native', Martin Booth's compelling memoir is a journey into Chinese culture and an extinct colonial way of life that glows with infectious curiosity and humour.
Hong Kong Highs and Lows
by Hong Kong Writers Circle
This symphony of stories conducts you through the great city of Hong Kong. From slumming it on the Peak to redemption in cage beds, from criminal ambition rewarded to noble opportunism betrayed, this collection spans the range of unexpected dreams and broken triumphs that is contemporary Hong Kong. Written by local authors who love this city, Hong Kong Highs and Lows will strike a chord with all who have experienced it.
A Modern History of Hong Kong
by Steve Tsang
From a little-known fishing community at the periphery of China, Hong Kong developed into one of the world's most spectacular and cosmopolitan metropoles after a century and a half of British imperial rule. This history of Hong Kong -- from its occupation by the British in 1841 to its return to Chinese sovereignty in 1997 -- includes the foundation of modern Hong Kong; its developments as an imperial outpost, its transformation into the ""pearl"" of the British Empire and of the Orient and the events leading to the end of British rule. Based on extensive research in British and Chinese sources, both official and private, the book addresses the changing relations between the local Chinese and the expatriate communities in 156 years of British rule, and the emergence of a local identity. It ends with a critical but dispassionate examination of Hong Kong's transition from a British Crown Colony to a Chinese Special Administrative Region.
The Piano Teacher
by Janice Y.K. Lee
Exotic Hong Kong takes center stage in this sumptuous novel, set in the 1940s and '50s. It's a city teeming with people, sights, sounds, and smells, and it's home to a group of foreign nationals who enjoy the good life among the local moneyed set, in a tight-knit social enclave distanced from the culture at large. Comfortable, clever, and even a bit dazzling, they revel in their fancy dinners and fun parties. But their sheltered lives take an abrupt turn after the Japanese occupation, and though their reactions are varied -- denial, resistance, submission -- the toll it takes on all is soon laid bare.
Enter Claire Pendleton from London. Months after her husband is transferred to Hong Kong in 1951, she accepts a position as a piano teacher to the daughter of a wealthy couple, the Chens. Claire begins to see the appeal of the sweltering city and is soon taken in by the Chen's driver, the curiously underutilized Will Truesdale. A handsome charmer with a mysterious limp, Will appears to be the perfect companion for Claire, who's often left to her own devices. But a further examination leaves her with more questions than answers.
An intricately woven tale of lives changed by historical events, Lee's debut brings this hothouse flower of a city alive with passion, and imagines characters both unforgettable and tragic.
Kowloon Tong
by Paul Theroux
Ninety-nine years of colonial rule are ending as the British prepare to hand over Hong Kong to China. For Betty Mullard and her son, Bunt, it doesn't concern them - until the mysterious Mr. Hung from the mainland offers them a large sum for their family business. They refuse, yet fail to realize Mr. Hung is unlike the Chinese they've known: he will accept no refusals. When a young female employee whom Bunt has been dating vanishes, he is forced to make important decisions for the first time in his life - but his good intentions are pitted against the will of Mr. Hung and the threat of the ultimate betrayal.

Noble House
by James Clavell
The tai-pan, Ian Dunross, struggles to rescue Struan's from the precarious financial position left by his predecessor. To do this, he seeks partnership with an American millionaire, while trying to ward off his arch-rival Quillan Gornt, who seeks to destroy Struan's once and for all. Meanwhile, Chinese communists, Taiwanese nationalists, and Soviet spies illegally vie for influence in Hong Kong while the British government seeks to prevent this. And nobody, it seems, can get anything done without enlisting the aid of Hong Kong's criminal underworld. Other obstacles include water shortages, landslides, bank runs and stock market crashes.
The Serious Hiker's Guide to Hong Kong 
by Pete Spurrier
High ridges, sparkling waterfalls, lush feng shui woods and ancient fishing communities nestled in rocky harbours. Your mind refreshed, your limbs exercised, and your senses intoxicated, you wonder at the fact that only a few miles separate all this from one of the world s most crowded cities. And you marvel at the speed with which you have stepped outside the boundaries of that metropolis into this revitalizing landscape.
The Hiker's Guide will direct your course into that other Hong Kong which lies outside the city margins, easing your transition into a wealth of natural beauty accessible to those ready to venture beyond busy streets and shopping malls.
Hong Kong: The City of Dreams
by Nury Vittachi, Ben Simmons
Hong Kong: City of Dreams showcases the rich history, diverse cultures and stunning sights of Hong Kong. Evocative texts and stunning photos bring the Hong Kong experience to life, giving readers a taste of what they can expect to see and experience in the City of Dreams.

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PSR_AXP 5 mths ago
Land And The Ruling Class In Hong Kong
by Alice Poon
It discusses how the land system in Hong Kong, inherited from the British, has helped to create unrivaled wealth for the ruling class and how the lack of competition law has encouraged industrial and economic concentration in these same entities. Arguing that the land system, industrial concentration, and phenomenal wealth imbalance have given rise to a host of social and economic ills, the concise analysis concludes by offering solutions to heal Hong Kong of these problems. This Edition was rated as Editor's Choice: Scholarly in September/October 2007 by Canadian Book Review Annual.
In July 2010 a Chinese edition of the title - "地產霸權" - was co-published by Enrich Publishing Ltd. and Hong Kong Economic Journal Co. Ltd. (ISBN 9789881921871). Yazhou Zhoukan (Asia Weekly) voted it as ONE OF THE TEN BEST BOOKS (NON-FICTION)IN GREATER CHINA FOR 2010. It also won the 4th Year Hong Kong Book Prize in June 2011.
In January 2011 Enrich Professional Publishing (S) Private Ltd. published a thoroughly revised and updated Second English Edition with the addition of a new chapter (ISBN 9789814339100).
Bright Lights and White Nights
by Andrew Carter
At first, moving east appears an inspired decision for Troy. But things take a disastrous turn. He inadvertently becomes embroiled in a debauched adventure, involving the players and oddballs of Hong Kong’s cocaine underworld … and a police informant against his will.
“In his debut novel, Andrew Carter serves up a well-crafted cautionary tale that penetrates Hong Kong’s glitzy surface and explores a darker side of expat life.”
– Peter Gregoire, prize-winning author of best-selling thrillers, Article 109 and The Devil You Know. 
Eating Smoke: One Man's Descent Into Crystal Meth Psychosis in Hong Kong's Triad Heartland
(Eating Smoke #1)
by Chris Thrall
Chris Thrall left the Royal Marines to find fortune in Hong Kong, but following a bizarre series of jobs ended up homeless and in psychosis from crystal meth.
He began working for the 14K, a notorious crime syndicate, as a nightclub doorman in the Wan Chai red-light district, where he uncovered a vast global conspiracy and the 'Foreign Triad' - a secretive expat clique in cahoots with the Chinese gangs.
Alone and confused in the neon glare of Hong Kong's seedy backstreets, Chris was forced to survive in the world's most unforgiving city, hooked on the world's most dangerous drug.
Engaging, honest and full of Chris's irrepressible humour, this remarkable memoir combines gripping storytelling with brooding menace as the Triads begin to cast their shadow over him. The result is a truly psychotic urban nightmare ... 
Sheriff of WAN Chai: How an Englishman Helped Govern Hong Kong in Its Last Decades as a British Colony
by Peter Mann
In 1976, Peter Mann left a gloomy England for the last corner of the British empire: Hong Kong. As a police inspector, he commanded a sub-unit and led a district vice squad in Kowloon, before joining the colonial government s Administrative Service and working in the fields of transport, housing, security, environment and tourism. He also served as District Officer for Wan Chai. From raids on gambling dens to organising Governors visits, his work involved him in all levels of Hong Kong society. Mann s memoir is an anecdotal, historical and racy account of Hong Kong s last decades as a British colony and the colourful story of a young Englishman in the twilight of empire." 
Diamond Hill: Memories of growing up in a Hong Kong squatter village
by Feng Chi-Shun
"Diamond Hill was one of the poorest and most backward of villages in Hong Kong at a time when Hong Kong itself was poor and backward. We moved there in 1956 when I was almost 10. I left in 1966 when I was 19. Those were the formative years of my life. It’s a time that I remember well and cherish."
This memoir of a native son of a Kowloon-side squatter village – the first book ever on Diamond Hill, in either Chinese or English – presents the early days of a life shaped by a now-extinct community. Penned by a high-achieving Hong Kong professional, Feng Chi-shun’s sharp recollections of his humble upbringing contain warmth, humour, and an abundance of insights into a low-income Hong Kong neighbourhood that no longer exists – but remains close to the hearts of many who lived there.
Diamond Hill will invite comparisons with Martin Booth's 2004 hit Gweilo. If you enjoyed the latter, you will likely find the former similarly absorbing, because the young Feng was, for many a “gweilo”, the inaccessible yet intriguing face of an altogether edgier Hong Kong. 
Hong Kong Noir
by Feng Chi-Shun
Hong Kong pathologist Feng Chi-shun was once part-owner of a dive bar in Kowloon City: a rough part of town which was home to the Sun Yee On triad gang. During that time, he heard a lot of stories.
How about the street sleeper who was a secret millionaire, or the man who chose to end it all in Chungking Mansions? Do you want to know the details of Kowloon's gruesome Hello Kitty murder, or what the taxi driver from hell did to his passengers? How about Elvis of the Orient, the ancient movie star who fooled hundreds of people for his final performance, or the student who stumbled into the 1967 riots and entered the world of girlie bars? And what was the truth about the girl with the eagle tattoo?
The 15 stories in Hong Kong Noir offer a glimpse of what happens in the shadows. 
No City for Slow Men: Hong Kong's quirks and quandaries laid bare
by Jason Y. Ng
Author and popular blogger Jason Y. Ng has a knack for making the familiar both fascinating and achingly funny. Three years after his bestselling début HONG KONG State of Mind, the razor-sharp observer returns with a sequel that is bigger and every bit as poignant.
No City for Slow Men is a collection of 36 essays that examine some of the pressing social, cultural and existential issues facing Hong Kong. It takes us on a tour de force from the gravity-defying property market to the plunging depths of old age poverty, from the storied streets of Sheung Wan to the beckoning island of Cheung Chau, from the culture-shocked Western expat to the misunderstood Mainland Chinese and the disenfranchised foreign domestic worker. The result is a treatise on Hong Kong life that is thought-provoking, touching and immensely entertaining. 
Not The Slightest Chance: The Defence Of Hong Kong, 1941
by Tony Banham
"Not the slightest chance" was Winston Churchill's April 1941 estimate of Hong Kong's prospects in the face of a Japanese assault. When in December the attack came, his prediction proved sadly accurate in just 18 days of brutal and confused fighting. In this book, Tony Banham tells the story of the battle hour-by-hour, remarkably at the level of the individual participants. As he names individuals and describes their fates, so he presents a uniquely human view of the fighting and gives a compelling sense of the chaos and cost of battle.
More than 10% of Hong Kong's defenders were killed in battle; a further 20% died in captivity. Those who survived seldom spoke of their experiences. Many died young. The little 'primary' material surviving--written in POW camps or years after the events--is contradictory and muddled. Yet with just 14,000 defending the Colony, it was possible to write from the individual's point of view rather than that of the Big Battalions so favoured by God (according to Napoleon) and most historians.The book assembles a phase-by-phase, day-by-day, hour-by-hour, and death-by-death account of the battle. It considers the individual actions that made up the fighting, as well as the strategies and plans and the many controversies that arose.
Not the Slightest Chance will be of interest to military historians, Hong Kong residents and visitors, and those in the UK, Canada, and elsewhere whose family members fought, or were interned, in Hong Kong during the war years. 
HONG KONG State of Mind: 37 Views of a City That Doesn't Blink
by Jason Y. Ng
Hong Kong is a mixed bag of a city. It is where Mercedes outnumber taxi cabs, party-goers count down to Christmas every December 24, and larger-than-life billboards of fortune tellers and cram school tutors compete with breathtaking skylines.
HONG KONG State of Mind is a collection of essays by a popular blogger who zeroes in on the city’s idiosyncrasies with deadpan precision. At once an outsider looking in and an insider looking out, Jason Y. Ng has created something for everyone: a travel journal for the passing visitor, a user’s manual for the wide-eyed expat, and an open diary for the native Hong Konger looking for moments of reflection.
Together with No City For Slow Men (2013) and Umbrellas in Bloom (2016), HONG KONG State of Mind forms Ng’s "Hong Kong Trilogy" that traces the city’s sociopolitical developments since its return to Chinese rule. 
The Heritage Hiker's Guide to Hong Kong
by Pete Spurrier
In terms of Chinese dynasties, Hong Kong's history has been short - but its tale has been told by a cosmopolitan cast of traders and taipans, adventurers and assassins, refugees and revolutionaries. And despite the city's pace of change, traces of this colourful past can still be found.
Let this walking guide show you the way. Hidden behind Hong Kong's modern facade, there are wartime tunnels, backstreet shophouses, ancient shrines and colonial forts - and there's a story to each one. With clear maps and archive photography, this book will lead you on your own explorations of Hong Kong's heritage. 
The Tiger Hunters of Tai O
by John Saeki
Hong Kong, 1954. The British colony was not yet ready to hear about a Eurasian policeman having an affair with the police commissioner's daughter. Simon Lee tasted swift punishment. He was banished to the far tip of a wild and distant island a stone's throw from Chinese waters - to Tai O, the ancient trading post where fishermen, salt-farmers and refugees were thrown together with spies, pirates and Triads. Dolphins swam the waters, eagles fished the sea, and some still believed that a tiger prowled the hills at night. It was a place haunted by history, where corpses had floated in the bay when Japanese troops occupied the police station, and everybody had a secret about what they did during the war. Life was unpredictable for the band of misfits that staffed Tai O Police Station. But when a stranger was murdered on a beach, accused of being a Communist spy, Lee found himself on a collision course with his masters in Central. Who had the dead man been working for? What did the secret agents know? Why was Central so eager to brush the execution aside? And who or what really was the 'tiger'? 
Poverty in the Midst of Affluence: How Hong Kong Mismanaged Its Prosperity
by Leo F. Goodstadt 顧汝德
Hong Kong is among the richest cities in the world. Yet over the past 15 years, living conditions for the average family have deteriorated despite a robust economy, ample budget surpluses and record labour productivity. Successive governments have been reluctant to invest in services for the elderly, the disabled, the long-term sick, and the poor, while education has become more elitist. The political system has helped to entrench a mistaken consensus that social spending is a threat to financial stability and economic prosperity. In this trenchant attack on government mismanagement, Leo Goodstadt traces how officials have created a ‘new poverty’ in Hong Kong and argues that their misguided policies are both a legacy of the colonial era and a deliberate choice by modern governments, and not the result of economic crises. This provocative book will be essential reading for anyone wishing to understand why poverty returned to Hong Kong in this century.
Leo F. Goodstadt is an Honorary Fellow of the University of Hong Kong and was head of the Hong Kong government’s Central Policy Unit from 1989 to 1997.
‘In this meticulously researched study of the causes and the course of worsening poverty amid growing affluence in Hong Kong, Leo Goodstadt has identified the New Poor as those made vulnerable through diminishing access to essential services and opportunities. The culprits are misguided policies, and the callous and uncaring decisions of those in power. This compelling critique carries weight and demands a response.’
—Christine Fang, Chief Executive of The Hong Kong Council of Social Service
‘In this last volume in his series on Hong Kong’s economic, social, and political development, Goodstadt has again given us a most timely intervention in policy discussion and public debate. This is a critical reflection on Hong Kong’s path of social development and a most discerning analysis of the Third World mentality espoused by the government and the business community in the area of social welfare.’
—Lui Tai-lok, Professor of Sociology, The University of Hong Kong
‘Welfare spending was like “pouring sand into the sea to reclaim land”, thought one Chief Executive. Governments restrained social spending based on that skewed view. Quality education was privatised through the direct subsidy scheme, putting social mobility and hope beyond the reach of many. This book is meticulously researched and painfully insightful. It is a masterly chronicle of Hong Kong’s social welfare poliy.’
—Anna Wu, Non-Official Member of the Executive Council, HKSAR 

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