Within this historical context, Kaufman focuses on family history and portrays some of the more interesting women, such as Rachel Sassoon Beer, owner and editor of two major British newspapers. He does not shy away from less savory endeavors; for example, the Sassoons sold opium. Especially compelling is Kaufman’s at assimilation and how, despite their wealth and power, both families struggled to overcome the anti-Semitism of the British elite to gain true acceptance. A fascinating look at two powerful dynasties as well as a sharp lens through which to view Shanghai’s ups and downs.
Kaufman succeeds in both presenting a topic with no previous in-depth coverage and analyzing the choices of another era and how they echo the ethical dilemmas of today. Included are a cast of characters, maps, and photographs ... This bold blend of personal and political history will reward enthusiastic readers for their time.