Empire made me: an Englishman adrift in Shanghai
Press release issued: 7 October 2003
Robert Bickers, a lecturer in History at Bristol University, will be talking about his exciting new book 'Empire made me: an Englishman adrift in Shanghai' at Stanfords bookshop in Bristol on Thursday October 9 at 7 pm.
Robert Bickers, a lecturer in History at Bristol University, will be talking about his exciting new book Empire made me: an Englishman adrift in Shanghai at Stanfords bookshop in Bristol on Thursday October 9 at 7 pm.
Empire made me is both a detective story and a meditation on loss. This highly charged, evocative tale chronicles an ordinary man's life and death as a servant of the British Empire, and provides a fascinating insight into how the Empire really worked.
Shanghai, in the wake of the First World War, was one of the world's most dynamic, brutal and exciting cities - an incredible panorama of nightclubs, opium-dens, brothels, racetracks, casinos - and murder. Threatened from within by gangsters, communists and nationalists, from without by Chinese warlords and Japanese troops, and governed by an ever more desperate British-dominated administration, Shanghai was both mesmerising and terrible.
Into this maelstrom stepped a tough and resourceful ex-veteran Englishman to join the Shanghai police. Aggressive, bullying, racist, self-aggrandizing, Maurice Tinkler was in many ways a typical Briton-on-the-make in an empire world that gave authority to its citizens purely through their skin colour. But Tinkler could not know that the history that packed him off to Shanghai would just as readily crush him.
Told in part through Tinkler's photo-albums and letters, Bickers explores Shanghai from 1919 and Tinkler's early years of service to the Empire as a policeman, to his violent death 20 years later.
Robert Bickers will be reading extracts from the book and signing copies at Stanfords in Bristol, 29 Corn Street. Tickets for the event are £2 and should be reserved in advance in the Bristol shop or by phoning 0117 929 9966.
Robert Bickers is a senior lecturer in history at Bristol University. He lived as a child in Hong Kong and studied mandarin and Chinese history in London and Taiwan. Robert Bicker's book Empire made me: an Englishman adrift in Shanghai was published in September 2003 by Allen Lane, ISBN: 0713996846.