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Condition: Used: Good
Comment: Cover has light wear to the edges, corners and spine. Slight smudges to the top closed page edge. Binding tight. Pages clean and unmarked.
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Hong Kong Paperback – February 4, 1997

3.7 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Overlooking one of the world's finest natural harbors, the crowded, glittering, hilly British crown colony of Hong Kong is a major banking, commercial, industrial and transportation center. In this well-written albeit overly detailed overview, noted Welsh travel writer Morris alternates chapters on Hong Kong's history with descriptions of its geography, economy, politics and society, interspersing word-portraits of some of its leading rulers and entrepreneurs. The author also assesses changes likely to occur before 1997, when the colony is scheduled to be returned to China, as well as after the transfer of power. Unfortunately, the British have declined to give political power to the people or to keep them properly informed, according to Morris. There is much more here than most American readers will want to know.
Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

From Library Journal

With the benefit of extensive reading and long observation, Morris writes of Hong Kong as it nears the end of its colonial status and moves toward the "enigma of 1997," the reunification with China. In alternating chapters of history and analysis, Morris conveys the colony's restless energy, its drive for profit, its lighted hills, the jackhammers pounding to make new buildings. Her prose, spiced with adjectives and apt phrases, moves easily among government officials, traders and triads, and the Chinese populace of millionaires and refugees. This well-balanced description of Hong Kong's past andpresent ends with a perceptive chapter on the belated introduction of democracy as Britain prepares to leave the colony. An enjoyable book that should find many readers. Literary Guild alternate.
- Elizabeth A. Teo, Moraine Valley Community Coll. Lib., Palos Hills, Ill.
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage (February 4, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679776486
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679776482
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.7 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,193,652 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Two lions made of bronze guard the entrance of the old Hong Kong and Shanghai Bank building on the Bund in Shanghai. One looks cross, the other one snarls. Their paws shine from the touch of thousands of hands. Many people hope that some of the lions' power (and some of the bank's wealth) will rub off on them. The two guards of good fortune even had names once. In the 19th century, the snarler was called Stephen, and the cross lion was called Stitt in honor of their resemblance to two senior managers at the bank's offices in Hong Kong.
This piece of trivia is part of the fun of reading Jan Morris's "Hong Kong: Epilogue to an Empire". As the subtitle suggests, the main focus of the book is on the British influence in Hong Kong. This is particularly evident in the four chapters that deal with selected periods of the history of Hong Kong: (1) the 1840s when Hong Kong was founded on a barren island as the base for British drug trafficking into China, (2) the 1880s when the colony and the British Empire were at the pinnacle of their power, (3) the 1920s when Shanghai began to eclipse the city, and (4) the 1940s when Hong Kong was occupied by the Japanese and later became the refuge for Chinese (many of them entrepreneurs from Shanghai) who fled the Communist revolution in China. The historical chapters are well-researched, and Morris enjoys elaborating on the quirks of the British in Hong Kong. The historical chapters are embedded in five chapters that take a more anecdotal look at the social, cultural, administrative, and economic aspects of life in Hong Kong. The chapter on administration is aptly named "Control Systems". Not surprisingly for Hong Kong, the most extensive and interesting chapter deals with business and the economy.
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Format: Paperback
This well-written and well-researched book is a fascinating introduction for those looking to get a feel for the history and dynamic of Hong Kong, its people and its historical rulers. This is not strictly a history book, nor is it a guidebook. Instead, Morris has woven together a story of a colony together with a writer's journal, laced with historical anecdotes and relevant passages from other writers and historians who have recorded their obersvations of Hong Kong over the course of its relatively short history. Morris does an excellent job of explaining how the demographics of Hong Kong evolved and continue to evolve, how an unlikely cast of characters landed on a once unwanted island and created a thriving port and city-state, and what the post-1997 future may bring to the former British colony. While Morris' account of Hong Kong's past, present and near future is extremely insightful, the book does have certain limitations. This is clearly a view of Hong Kong through the eyes of a European. Insightful as Morris may be, this perspective inevitably will have holes, as Europeans make up only a tiny fraction of Hong Kong's current population and lead a much different lifestyle than the other inhabitants. To give one example of such limitation, the experience of Filipinos, who make up the largest non-Chinese group currently living in Hong Kong and dominate the scene as domestic helpers and laborers in certain other low-wage fields, is described on portions of only two pages. Morris merely scratches the surface of one of the more complex storylines of Hong Kong. Still, while Morris is not able to present a Chinese (or Filipino) perspective of Hong Kong, the reader can see that Morris is intellectually honest and is aware of the limitations.Read more ›
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By A Customer on October 29, 2001
Format: Paperback
I read and re-read this book over and over again while living in Hong Kong in the late nineteen nineties, both before and after the end of British rule.
I found it both an absorbing, exciting read, and a useful practical guide - I explored many parts of Hong Kong after first reading about them in this book - for example, some of the more remote peaks of the New Territories where there are wonderful hiking trails set up in British days, full of beauty and history (they are Hong Kong's best kept secret - the only antitidote for the city's overcrowding). Also, the author's description of the ceaseless (aargh!) jack-hammering in urban areas is almost poetic (every expat's nightmare).
Her description of Western expatriate life is informative and amusing - and accurate - some expats resent this kind of blunt description!
Her account of the Chinese population must not be missed as she goes into great detail of the sad and poignant refugee movement that sent millions of Chinese fleeing into Hong Kong from mainland China to become the city's residents of today - if you are going to Hong Kong (or are simply interested), do take this book along, as the refugee status of the population is a very painful subject (understandably) for Hong Kong Chinese and you will here little about it in post - handover Hong Kong, but an essential element in understanding how the place ticks.
Like many wonderful, accurate books about Hong Kong (Timothy Mo's the Monkey King; Paul Theroux's Kowloon Tong - read those if you like this one), Jan Morris's Hong Kong can be a painful read for some - Hong Kong's sad history of insecurity ensures that. But the detached reader, with this book, is in for a truly enjoyable experience that will be both a wealth of information and insight. Cracking good prose, too. UK edition is updated to 1997.
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