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Real People/Real Stories: “The Peking Express” (WL)

March 21 @ 2:00 pm


Real People/Real Stories meets the third Thursday of each month to explore the best in nonfiction history, biography, science, nature, and the arts. This month’s title is The Peking Express: The Bandits who Stole a Train, Stunned the West, and Broke the Republic of China by James M. Zimmerman.

In May 1923, a luxury train traveling from Shanghai to Peking was attacked by a large gang of criminals led by the infamous bandit Sun Mei-yao. The goal was to capture the wealthy foreign travelers on board and hold them hostage. The ensuing incident brought international attention and lasting political consequences to China.

“The Peking Express is a dramatic story of survival, heroism, and political intrigue. It takes the reader from the bustling cosmopolitan city of Shanghai to the impoverished, rural landscape of the mysterious and breathtakingly beautiful mountains of southern Shandong. Zimmerman delivers a gripping account that captivates the reader from beginning to end—an ending that is both climatic and riveting in its description of the horrors and excesses of China’s Warlord Era. This is a book that readers will never forget!” ― Lingling Wei, award-winning journalist; chief China correspondent, the Wall Street Journal; and coauthor of Superpower Showdown

“The Peking Express is a vivid, exhilarating account of China’s greatest train robbery of the early twentieth century. A true story about bandits, kidnapping, forced marches across the countryside, a pursuing Chinese army, diplomatic intrigue, and a cast of rather unique characters in 1923 China—what’s not to love???” ― Paul French, author of Midnight in Peking and City of Devils

“[A] gripping debut history… Zimmerman weaves in snapshots of a country in turmoil, contrasting walled cities and starving villagers caught in the cross fire between bandits and warlords with thriving metropolises built by foreign interests. Dramatic and meticulously researched, it’s an immersive look at a forgotten chapter of Chinese history.” ― Publishers Weekly


Stryker Center at the Williamsburg Regional Library
412 N. Boundary Street
Williamsburg, VA 23185 United States
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