SCIS Shanghai

Relocating to a new part of the world can be particularly challenging under the best of circumstances. In cases where you are moving to a completely foreign culture those challenges have the potential to seem insurmountable because you don’t know what to expect. One of the goals of Expat Essentials is to remove some of the mystery so that you will feel more comfortable and prepared for your journey.

This section is particularly important to the successful process of moving your life to Hong Kong. We have carefully selected titles that we feel cover a broad range of topics and which will appeal to many types of readers in the hope that you will find something that is both enjoyable and useful.

Taking the time to read about Hong Kong before you go will ease your transition, open your mind and heart and make the overall experience better in many ways. Enjoy!

The Last Governor
Jonathan Dimbleby (1998) 461 pages
Little, Brown and Company

The Last Governor is a revealing examination of Chris Patton’s tenure leading up to the hand over of Hong Kong to the Chinese in 1997. During that time Patton enjoyed huge popularity in the colony while clashing with the mainland authorities over the future of democracy in Hong Kong.

A Modern History of Hong Kong
Steve Tsang (2007) 334 pages
Macmillan

Tsang’s documenting of Hong Kong’s rollercoaster history from the Opium Wars to the Handover is both definitive and thoroughly engaging. Hi account takes a balanced approach between Chinese and British influences while placing ordinary Hong Kongers as the key characters.

Kowloon Tong
Paul Theroux (1998) 260 pages
Mariner Books

Kowloon Tong is a typically gripping Theroux thriller embodied within a stinging critique of Hong Kong’s British Elite. The tale ties together inept British elite, corrupt mainland businessmen and the Hong Kong underworld amid the uncertainty surrounding the take over of the city by mainland authorities.

Gweilo: Memories of a Hong Kong Childhood
Martin Booth (2005) 269 Pages
Bantam Press

Gweilo is an evocative memoir of personal stories filled with anecdotes of a 1950’s Hong Kong filled with British naval officers, drunken expats and rickshaw drivers. It is a powerful account of an exotic colonial Hong Kong that has long since passed.

Hong Kong Action Cinema
Bey Logan (1996) 191 pages
Overlook TP

A light enthusiastic look at the development of the Kung Fu genre in Hong Kong that profiles blockbuster names such as Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan. Logan’s effort traces the genre’s transition from back street Kowloon brawls to the big screens of Hollywood.

Hong Kong: China’s New Colony
Stephen Vine (1998) 274 pages
Aurum Press

This resident journalists’ examination of Hong Kong’s handover to Chinese authorities in 1997 takes a personal angle that includes tales and anecdotes that are incredibly absorbing. Vine is even handed in his criticism of both the British and the Chinese authorities though his account is thoroughly subjective.

We Shall Suffer There
Tony Banham (2009) 333 pages
Hong Kong University Press

We Shall Suffer There is a comprehensive account of Hong Kong’s most traumatic experience; the Japanese invasion and occupation during World War II. Interviews with British, Canadian, Indian and Chinese survivors and their children help portray the harsh and cruel life within the internment camps.

Myself a Mandarin
Austin Coates (2000) 250 pages
Oxford in Asia Paperbacks

Myself a Mandarin is a classic autobiographical account of the life of a British Magistrate in 1950’s Hong Kong. Coates’ efforts to understand the Cantonese people and deliver British justice provide largely undated insight into the mentality of the Chinese people. This entertaining account is essential reading if you are planning to work in Hong Kong.

Hong Kong: The City of Dreams
Nury Vittachi (2006) 96 pages
Periplus Editions

Vittachi’s photo biography of Hong Kong is stunning. The panoramic views will seriously enhance your understanding of the city you are about to experience. For those budding photographers Vittachi has included a map showing where all the photos were taken so that you may take some of your own.

Travelers’ Tales Hong Kong
James O’ Reilly (1996) 439 pages
Travelers’ Tales Inc.

Traveller’s Tales is a must read for people visiting or relocating to Hong Kong. O’Reilly’s more than 50 witty insights into the city provide the reader with a rich and colourful picture of Hong Kong’s exotic sights and sounds with stories about cultural mishaps and the city’s must see sites.

My Country and My People
Lin Yutang (1936) 349 pages
William Heinemann Ltd.

Lin Yutang is the Harvard educated Nobel Prize nominated inventor of the Chinese printing press as well as the author of arguably the definitive work on the Chinese mentality. My Country and My People offers piercing insight into the character and personality of Chinese people and is written with the purpose of explaining China and its people to westerners. As such it is a must read for those interested in looking deeper than the consumer oriented surface of the people of Hong Kong.

One Billion Customers: Lessons from the front lines of doing business in China
James McGregor (2007) 312 pages
Free Press and Simon & Schuster

One Billion Customers is widely praised as a must read for those going to China to do business. McGregor’s work is both colourful and cautionary and offers nuggets of wisdom that are as insightful as they are valuable. Though written about mainland China, it hold strong relevance for Hong Kong.

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