Shanghai in the 20s was a fabulous place, a gaudy, immoral, violent, unjust, optimistic free-for-all where rickshaws competed with Rolls-Royces and a wealthy Englishman, American, or Japanese who spent an afternoon at the dog races might be inconvenienced by the sight of a public beheading on his way to the club for cocktails. It was also an improbable model for the future where racial barriers were rigid in certain neighborhoods and completely lacking in others only a few blocks away. There was almost no place in history where the past and the future collided with so much drama.
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