Peking Story: The Last Days of Old China

Peking Story: The Last Days of Old China

Paperback New York Review Books Classics

By (author) David Kidd, Preface by John Lanchester

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  • Format: Paperback | 183 pages
  • Dimensions: 128mm x 204mm x 13mm | 213g
  • Publication date: 31 July 2003
  • Publication City/Country: New York, NY
  • ISBN 10: 1590170407
  • ISBN 13: 9781590170403
  • Edition statement: Reprint
  • Sales rank: 300,573

Product description

For two years before and after the 1948 Communist Revolution, David Kidd lived in Peking, where he married the daughter of an aristocratic Chinese family. "I used to hope," he writes, "that some bright young scholar on a research grant would write about us and our Chinese friends before it was too late and we were all dead and gone, folding into the darkness the wonder that had been our lives." Here Kidd himself brings that wonder to life.

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Author information

David Kidd (1926-1996) was born in Corbin, Kentucky to a coal-mining community. He later grew up in Detroit, where his father became an executive in the automotive industry. In 1946, at age nineteen, Kidd made his first trip to Peking as a University of Michigan exchange student with one idea in mind: to get as far away from home as possible. He spent the next four years teaching English in the Peking suburbs. During this time, he married the daughter of a former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, moving into her family's 101-room palace, where he had a uniquely intimate view of the Communist takeover. His account of his experiences was serialized in "The New Yorker" and published in book-form as "All the Emperor's Horses" in 1960, later retitled "Peking Story: The Last Days of Old China." He returned to the US in 1950 and taught at the Asia Institute until 1956, when he moved to Japan. There he continued to work as a lecturer, became a devoted collector of Chinese and Japanese art and antiquities, and, in 1976, founded the Oomoto School of Traditional Japanese Arts in Kyoto. He lived in Kyoto until his death of cancer at age sixty-nine.

Review quote

"Kidd's story wavers between fact and fiction. It seems too good to be true, like the perfectly woven family sagas common to the great Chinese novels and Victorian fiction. But the climax . . . is firmly written in fact: the crumbling of an empire 4,000 years old."