Daughter of the Dragon: Anna May Wong’s Rendezvous with American History

Liveright: Norton. Aug. 2023. 384p. ISBN 9781631495809. $30. BIOG
Situating a huge star within the even larger histories of Hollywood, the United States, and the world, Huang (Inseparable: The Original Siamese Twins and Their Rendezvous with American History) tells the full story of Anna May Wong (1905–1961), considered the first Chinese American film star in Hollywood. Her career began in silent films; later, in the 1930s, despite rampant Hollywood racism, she starred in a number of films including 1937’s Daughter of Shanghai. In 1951, she starred in the detective TV series The Gallery of Madame Liu-Tsong. Her legacy and life outside of her films are as fascinating as the made-up stories from movie magazines printed during her career. While Wong’s life has recently been explored in historical fiction (including Gail Tsukiyama’s The Brightest Star and Amanda Lee Koe’s Delayed Rays of a Star), most readers will find her real story even more engaging. Huang has created a page-turner nonfiction book with this biography by fleshing out the world in which Wong lived.
VERDICT Huang’s lively, surprising, and all-encompassing biography of Anna May Wong should be on everyone’s summer reading list. A must for libraries with strong film and pop culture collections.
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