Jonathan Kaufman, The Last Kings of Shanghai: The Rival Jewish Dynasties That Helped Create Modern China
Presented in Partnership with the 2020 Ann Arbor Jewish Book Festival
Jonathan Kaufman discusses his book, The Last Kings of Shanghai: The Rival Jewish Dynasties That Helped Create Modern China, with Rabbi Brent Gutmann of Temple Kol Ami.
This epic, multi-generational story focuses on two rival dynasties, the Kadoories and Sassoons, who flourished in Shanghai and Hong Kong as twentieth-century China surged into the modern era. These two Jewish families, both originally from Baghdad, stood astride Chinese business and politics for more than 175 years profiting from the Opium Wars, surviving Japanese occupation, and losing nearly everything as the Communists swept into power.
Kaufman’s book lays bare the moral compromises of the families – and their exceptional foresight, success, and generosity. At the height of World War II, they joined together to rescue and protect eighteen thousand Jewish refugees fleeing Nazism. Though their stay in China started out as a business opportunity, the long-hidden odysseys of the Sassoons and the Kadoories hold a key to understanding the present moment.
Day Sponsor: Carol & Ronald Fogel
Sponsor: Bluma & Robert (z”l) Schechter, Nancy & Sam Shamie and Family, Cohn-Haddow Center for Judaic Studies
Co-sponsor: Gail J. Hines
About the Author:
Jonathan Kaufman is a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter who has written and reported on China for thirty years for The Boston Globe, where he covered the 1989 massacre in Tiananmen Square, The Wall Street Journal, where he served as China Bureau Chief, and Bloomberg News. He is currently the Director of the School of Journalism at Northeastern University in Boston.
About the Moderator:
Rabbi Gutmann of Temple Kol Ami is a native Midwesterner who received his undergraduate degree from Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana, and his rabbinical ordination from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Cincinnati, Ohio.