The Peking Express: The Bandits Who Stole a Train, Stunned the West, and Broke the Republic of China

Hachette Audio. Apr. 2023. 9:43 hrs. ISBN 9781668621721. $27.99. HIST
In 1923 China, the Peking Express, a luxurious express train on the new railroad between Shanghai and Peking, caught the world’s attention. The train’s opulence attracted people from all walks of life, from Chinese nationals to American heiress Lucy Aldrich (John D. Rockefeller Jr.’s sister-in-law), military officers and their families, missionaries, and prominent journalists and businesspeople. But then the train was targeted by a group of bandits led by warlord Sun Mei-yao. The bandits stole everything of value from the train, including food and clothing; they then brutally kidnapped the passengers in a desperate bid to force the Chinese government to recognize their legitimacy. Narrator David Shih engagingly conveys Beijing-based lawyer Zimmerman’s (China Law Deskbook) meticulous research, conveying the particulars of the attack and the drawn-out crisis that ensued. Shih’s expressive performance complements Zimmerman’s dramatic descriptions of the tumult of 1920s China and the people involved in this astonishing story.
VERDICT A gripping account of a country in transition. Highly recommended for history buffs and fans of Jonathan Kaufman’s The Last Kings of Shanghai.
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