Publication coincides with the 70TH ANNIVERSARY of the Communist Revolution.
THE FIRST BOOK IN ENGLISH TO DESCRIBE THE MASSIVE EMIGRATION FROM SHANGHAI by many of the country’s most educated and skilled talents.
WELL-CONNECTED AUTHOR: Former executive editor of Ms. Magazine, Zia is well known in the Asian American community and academic circles.
TWO OF THE FOUR MAIN CHARACTERS EMIGRATE DIRECTLY TO THE U.S.: Their unwelcome reception here during the Cold War makes for engaging reading.
RELEVANT TO TODAY: Even though this exodus from Shanghai occurred seventy years ago, it shares remarkable similarities to the massive refugee crises of today.
ZIA HAS SPENT A DOZEN YEARS PREPARING THIS BOOK, interviewing over 100 former Shanghai residents and conducting exhaustive research as a Fulbright scholar.
“Blending the personal with pivotal world history, Zia succeeds in creating a universal, timeless story…. Gathered, analyzed, and distilled with insight and meticulous documentation, Zia’s book gives voice to a history almost lost.”—The Christian Science Monitor
“A deftly woven, deeply moving chronicle of the extraordinary ordeals of four ordinary Chinese in a world torn by war and fractured by ideology… a fascinating read as an intimate family memoir, as well as a missing chapter of modern history finally coming to light … What makes the Shanghai story unique…is that we didn’t really know the story. Except in some films and novels that make passing references to this episode of Chinese history—often as a nostalgic backdrop, equivalent to a crowd scene in cinematic terms—the real human cost of the massive exodus has remained a mystery. Official records, if any, are suppressed, and research in this area has been sketchy. In this sense, Helen Zia’s new book, Last Boat Out of Shanghai: The Epic Story of the Chinese Who Fled Mao’s Revolution …fills a gap in our collective memory.”—San Francisco Chronicle
“Beautifully crafted, carefully researched … Last Boat Out of Shanghai is an engaging work of high-quality popular history. It has things to offer not just to general readers with little knowledge about the city’s intriguing past, but even to specialists…. Ms. Zia lets us eavesdrop on the conversations in ‘hushed voices’ of several people whose childhoods are brought vividly to life…. Last Boat Out of Shanghai is so good I’ll certainly need to add it to the syllabus for my class. That means something else will have to go—or my students will simply have four hundred more pages of fascinating reading.”—Jeffrey N. Wasserstrom, The Wall Street Journal
“The dramatic story of four young people who were among the thousands fleeing China after 1949’s Communist revolution. Eye-opening.”—People
“Zia’s portraits are compassionate and heartbreaking, and they are, ultimately, the universal story of many families who leave their homeland as refugees and find less-than-welcoming circumstances on the other side. I read with a personal hunger to know the political and personal exigencies that led to those now-or-never decisions, for they mirror the story of my own mother, who also left on virtually the last boat out of Shanghai.”—Amy Tan, author of The Joy Luck Club
“I have long been an admirer of Helen Zia’s writing and scholarship, but Last Boat Out of Shanghai is at a whole new level. It’s a true page-turner. Zia has proven once again that history is something that happens to real people. I stayed up late reading night after night, because I wanted to know what would happen to Benny, Ho, Bing, Annuo, and their friends and families.”—Lisa See, author of The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane
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