The Last Days of Old China

April 30th, 2012

The China we are all to familiar with today is a modern nation, moving rapidly from a rural to an industrial economy. A center of commerce and modernity. But just before WWII China, particularly Peking, as it was known then, was a colonial outpost, a mix of privilege, scandal, superstition and opulence. The British were omnipresent, the Japanese were encircling the city. It was truly the last days of Peking.

Amidst this the murder of a British schoolgirl would capture the city's imagination and fear. A murder that would reveal a side of Peking that few wanted to acknowledge.

China expert and British expat Paul French has picked up the threads of this story and woven them into a remarkable picture of time that is truly a prelude to modern China. He takes us on a remarkable journey in Midnight in Peking: How the Murder of a Young Englishwoman Haunted the Last Days of Old China. My conversation with Paul French: