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A Dance with the Dragon
The Vanished World of Peking's Foreign Colony
With its fossil hunters and philosophers, diplomats, dropouts, writers and explorers, missionaries and refugees, Peking's foreign community in the early 20th century was as exotic as the city itself. Always a magnet for larger than life individuals, Peking attracted characters as diverse as Reginald Johnston (tutor to the last emperor), Bertrand Russell, Pierre Loti, Rabrindranath Tagore, Sven Hedin, Peter Fleming, Wallis Simpson and Cecil Lewis. The last great capital to remain untouched by the modern world, Peking both entranced and horrified its foreign residents. Ignoring the poverty outside their gates, they danced, played and squabbled among themselves, oblivious to the great political events that were to shape modern China unfolding around them. This is a dazzling portrait of an eclectic foreign community and of China itself.
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What Reviewers Are Saying
"Julia Boyd tells the fascinating tale of the foreign community surviving in Peking between the end of the Ching Dynasty and Mao's communist revolution. It is a great story very well told - turmoil behind, turmoil ahead and turmoil all around. Chris Patten, Chancellor of Oxford University, Chairman of the BBC and former Governor of Hong Kong "Based on a treasure-trove of original sources, this book gives an enthralling insight into the expatriate community in Peking during the half-century before the triumph of Mao. Anyone who wants to understand China's relationship with foreigners, today as well as yesterday, should read it." Piers Brendon, author of The Decline and Fall of the British Empire 'A fascinating account sourced from many previously unpublished letters and archives. Boyd's characters flit on the surface of the city like water beetles, unaware of the depths below.' Frances Wood, Curator of Chinese Collections, British Library, author of China's First Emperor and His Terracotta Warriors.