978-0-395-98537-3 / 9780395985373

Secret War in Shanghai: An Untold Story of Espionage, Intrigue, and Treason in World War II


Publisher:Houghton Mifflin Harcourt



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About the book:

Before World War II, Shanghai was China's leading commercial center and the most vital and glamorous of Asia's great cities. Against the background of civil war, Shanghai was administered by a consortium of international powers intent on exploiting a defenseless China. The city's seizure by the Imperial Japanese Army in December 1941 ended much of its glitter but not its role as a den of espionage, corruption, and vice. Bernard Wasserstein deftly sets the complex scene as the different powerbrokers, from ambassadors to gangsters, accommodated to the occupying Japanese. The cast of characters is bizarre, ranging from master spies such as Richard Sorge, whose coup was to warn Stalin of Germany's impending invasion, to imposters and petty secret agents living on their wits. People were not what they seemed: the author reveals the often sordid realities behind his protagonists' masks as they struggled for survival and each others' secrets. Richly researched from original sources, Secret War in Shanghai is particularly successful in painting vivid pictures of the different national groups that found themselves caught up in the city's vortex: destitute White Russians, refugees from Hitler's Germany, British taipans trying to hang onto their business interests. The story moves as fast as a racy novel, yet it is all meticulously documented fact. --John Stevenson

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