Empire Made Me: An Englishman Adrift in Shanghai Paperback – 3 Jun 2004
- Choose from over 13,000 locations across the UK
- Prime members get unlimited deliveries at no additional cost
- Find your preferred location and add it to your address book
- Dispatch to this address when you check out
Frequently Bought Together
Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought
Enter your mobile number below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
Getting the download link through email is temporarily not available. Please check back later.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
"'This is a biography of a nobody that offers a window into an otherwise closed world. It is a life which manages to touch us all' Empire Made Me"
About the Author
Robert Bickers is Senior Lecturer in History at Bristol University. He has published extensively on Chinese history.
What Other Items Do Customers Buy After Viewing This Item?
Top Customer Reviews
The book provides a detailed picture of Shanghai life between the wars, and the unique nature of the International Settlement and other Treaty Ports. Tinkler joined the Shanghai Municipal Police; its composition and workings are described in some detail in the book, as are the workings of the Shanghai Municipal Council. I could really picture the place and the people.
The book discusses the Treaty Ports, Shanghailanders, Tinkler and other expatriate workers ('labourers, farm workers, railwaymen, warehousemen, quarrymen' to quote the author) in the context of the British Empire, and thus goes beyond just a biography of Tinkler.
The author is an academic and the structure and style of the book is, in my opinion, an amalgam of a purely academic history treatise and a a popular story. The writing style is somewhat more academic than I would have preferred, but is still readable. The author quotes profusely and provides detailed statistics, both of which sometimes get in the way of the story, even if they might be interesting to students of history. I'm not sure I needed to know that in 1925 (was it?) there were 7,923 acres in the External Roads areas outside the Settlement, for example.
The author must have done a tremendous amount of research, and the book is obviously a labour of love. The detail makes it a good book for students of Empire, Shanghai and the inter war years, but it is also a good read for anyone interested in modern history. The writing style is not quite as fluid as I would have liked, but it's still a very good read.
Dr Bickers' painstaking and patient research is also an excellent example of how to do this kind of history. It is a detective story - appropriately enough - about a detective, and he pieces together the evidence carefully. Where there are gaps - and there are many - in the documentation, his speculations seem spot on.
There are many more histories of this kind to be written, of ordinary people in extraordinary times and places. Look in your loft !
As a PS to the final chapter of the book, I went to the International Cemetery in Shanghai on 2 May to find Tinkler's memorial stone. It is still there, although hard to find buried in undergrowth.
Back then, as now, not all foreigners were upper-class entrepreneurs and philanthropists. It is fascinating to read about the lives of 'ordinary' people.
What Bickers does really well is paint a picture of Tinkler's evolution (or regression) as a man of the Empire. It is painstakingly researched, with Tinkler's own story deveeloping against the backdrop of a magnificent city in decline.
Insights into the peculiarities of extraterritoriality; how the Treaty of Nanjing (and subsequent treaties) eventually returned to haunt the Shanghai Municpal Council; the racial tensions between local Chinese, White Russians, Brits, Japanese and Americans, and the eventual disintegration of Shanghai are brilliantly explained and analyzed, running alongisde the story of a man who, in the end, is difficult to like. However, as Brits, that doesn't mean we shouldn't try!
This is more than an autobiography of one man molded by his experiences in service of the British Empire, some aspects of which are sad such as his lost love who clearly never really forgot him and the harsher side of colonial living such as Tinkler's overtly racist attitude to the Chinese and his disdain for the Sikh and Chinese Police Officers.
The references provided with this book are quite exemplary to the point of creating a book within a book, many references indicting other possible routes of research and interest, giving the impression (to me at least) that this work could easily have been an edited down version of a Masters or Doctoral thesis.
Given the author's background and the nature of the funding for this research, the academic style of writing is entirely forgivable, given as it does to maintaining the flow of reading but it clearly leans heavily away from being a quick read.
Rightly or wrongly however, I felt that at times that some information could have been added as much because there was a reference available to support it, as to the support it gave the issue being discussed, which at times prompted the question `where are we going with this'?
That said, this is a remarkable piece of work given the depth and breadth of detail and supporting information it contains which quite rightly contributed to this book being awarded the first Institute of Historical Research prize in 2000.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I downloaded The Empire Made Me: An Englishman Adrift in Shaghai by Robert Beckers because it was mentioned in a Guardian review of a novel about China. Read morePublished on 27 July 2012 by Marian Pallister
This is an intriguing and carefully researched book, looking at 'the boiler room of Empire', as another reviewer has put it. Read morePublished on 16 Feb. 2011 by John Baird
This is the story of Richard Maurice Tinkler an ordinary Englishman who after fighting for his country in World war one found that his country has no job for him. Read morePublished on 24 Jun. 2010 by Mr. Leong Wai Hong
Look for similar items by category
- Books > Biography > Historical > 1901 Onwards
- Books > Biography > Historical > Britain > 1901 Onwards
- Books > Biography > Historical > Britain > Military
- Books > Biography > Historical > Countries & Regions > China
- Books > Biography > Political > Britain
- Books > Biography > Political > Countries & Regions
- Books > Biography > True Crime > Police
- Books > History > Ancient History & Civilisation > China
- Books > History > Britain & Ireland > Edwardian and Early 20th Century 1901-1913
- Books > History > Britain & Ireland > Inter-war Period 1919-1938
- Books > History > Countries & Regions > Asia > China
- Books > History > Essays, Journals, Letters & True Accounts > 20th Century
- Books > History > Europe > Early 20th Century 1901-1913
- Books > History > Europe > Inter-war Period 1919-1938
- Books > History > North America > Early 20th Century 1901-1913
- Books > History > North America > Inter-war Period 1919-1938
- Books > History > World History > 1901-1913
- Books > History > World History > Inter-war Period 1919-1938