Trim: 6½ x 9⅜
978-0-7391-6938-4 • Hardback • March 2012 • $120.00 • (£92.00)
978-0-7391-9091-3 • Paperback • December 2013 • $51.99 • (£40.00)
978-0-7391-6939-1 • eBook • November 2011 • $49.00 • (£38.00)
Matthias Messmer was born 1967 in St. Gallen, Switzerland. He received his M.A. in Political Science, Law and Economics (St. Gallen) and Ph.D. in Social Sciences (Konstanz). His research is focused on intercultural subjects and topics related to China and Chinese culture. Dr. Messmer is also affiliated with the University of Fribourg (Switzerland) as Senior Research Fellow and his projects include cultural documentation and criticism in the form of writing and photography. He has previously published books (in German) such as Soviet and Post-Communist Antisemitism (1997) and China–West-Eastern Encounters (2007). In 2013, he authored (together with Hsin-Mei Chuang) the book China's Vanishing Worlds: Countryside, Traditions and Cultural Spaces (Cambridge: MIT Press). In 2018, he published the book China at its Limits: An Empire's Rise Beyond its Borders (Berlin: Kerber) together with Hsin-Mei Chuang.
Preface and Acknowledgments
Names and Orthography
Introduction: Individuals, Biographies and Lifeworlds
Chapter 1. The Long Established: Jewish Old China Hands
I. Descendants: Jews with Sephardi Roots
II. Russian Jews Originating from the Czarist Empire
Chapter 2. Jewish Travelers: Temporarily and Voluntarily in China
II. Couriers, Emissaries and Advisors
III. Adventurers and Lone Wolves
V. Research Travelers and Travel Authors
VII. Independents and Freelancers
Chapter 3. Refugees Driven from Europe to the Far East
Chapter 4. “Foreign Experts” and Supporters of Mao’s Revolution
Jews in China doesn't sound like an obvious topic at first blush but Messmer has compiled an extensive, admirable, and fascinating collection of vignettes of a displaced people surviving and living through the most tumultuous time in China's history.
— A. Tom Grunfeld, Empire State College
In the pages of this amazing and unique book men and women come alive who arrived in China for longer or shorter periods of time. Hailing from Europe and elsewhere, there were merchants and journalists, physicians and writers, adventurers and communists, and refugees from Nazi Germany. They witnessed one of the most turbulent periods in Chinese history, their lives forever affected by what they saw and experienced. In vivid portrayals the author masterfully allows us glimpses of such women as Emily Hahn and Ruth Weiss, or men like Harold Isaacs and Theodore White and how they viewed 'their' China. Many like Willy Tonn regretfully left the China they had come to consider their own. Others like Israel Epstein and Sidney Shapiro remained in the country which they loved and where they felt they belonged. This is a superbly stimulating book.
— Irene Eber
Dr Matthias Messmer, a Swiss author and journalist, recently published a book titled “Jewish Wayfarers in Modern China: Tragedy and Splendor” that deals with the memories and biographies of Jewish personalities.
— Shanghai Daily
Jewish Wayfarers in Modern China is, indeed, panoramic: the book profiles a fascinating array of personalities whose only unifying characteristic is Jewish ethnicity. . . . Matthias Messmer. . . has vacuumed up details from newspapers, memoirs, academic archives, interviews, and other sources, and stitched them together into life narratives in an impressive feat of coordination and stamina. . . . As a reference volume for China through diverse Jewish eyes, then, this book succeeds. And it may serve as a blueprint for future writers seeking to articulate the depth and complexity of the ‘Jewish experience’ in China.
— South China Morning Post
“Through a collection of short biographies situated in the context of Chinese and Western history, it offers a panoramic view of China as experiences by many different persons of Jewish origins during their sojourn in the Middle Kingdom”
“Divided into four chapters the book deals with Jewish old China hands, such as the Sasoon and Kadoorie families and the Russian Jews from Czarist Empire. It then focuses on the travelers, journalists, couriers, emissaries, explorers, physicians, the refugees and ‘foreign experts’.”
“The book offers a magical journey back through time using carefully-researched biographies in a wide variety of typical and less typical Western visitors”
— Jewish Times
Readers of Jewish Wayfarers in Modern China will be amazed and astonished to learn how many Jews have influenced Chinese history. Finally, within one volume, an amazing, fascinating, exciting collection of old China hands, travelers, advisers, adventurers, diplomats, explorers, physicians, refugees, and even Mao’s inner circle, will dazzle every reader.
— Jewish Book Council