City of Devils

The Two Men Who Ruled the Underworld of Old Shanghai
Narrated by: Paul Chan
Length: 9 hrs and 5 mins
4 out of 5 stars (63 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

From Paul French, New York Times best-selling author of Midnight in Peking - winner of both the Edgar Award for best fact crime and the CWA Gold Dagger for nonfiction - comes a rags-to-riches tale of two self-made men set against a backdrop of crime and vice in the sprawling badlands of Shanghai. City of Devils is a dynamic audiobook that will captivate listeners everywhere.  

Shanghai, 1930s; it was a haven for outlaws from all over the world: a place where pasts could be forgotten, fascism and communism outrun, names invented, and fortunes made - and lost. “Lucky” Jack Riley was the most notorious of those outlaws. An ex-US Navy boxing champion, he escaped from prison and rose to become the Slots King of Shanghai. 

“Dapper” Joe Farren - a Jewish boy who fled Vienna’s ghetto - ruled the nightclubs. His chorus lines rivaled Ziegfeld’s. In 1940, Lucky Jack and Dapper Joe bestrode the Shanghai Badlands like kings while all around the Solitary Island was poverty, starvation, and war. They thought they ruled Shanghai, but the city had other ideas. 

This is the story of their rise to power, their downfall, and the trail of destruction left in their wake. Shanghai was their playground for a flickering few years, a city where for a fleeting moment even the wildest dreams could come true.

©2018 Paul French (P)2018 Macmillan Audio
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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Vivid!

A time capsule to a time and place that will never be again. City of Devils perfectly captures the criminal underbelly of Shanghai of the 1920's and 30's.

1 person found this helpful

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Fascinating Story

Really a great book. It captures a strange and different world. The story moves well and the reading is clear and engaging.

1 person found this helpful

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Very hard to listen to

This was the most difficult book to listen to. The tempo was poor and the voice was a loud whisper. The story was jumpy

4 people found this helpful

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Captivating

This is very much a work of narrative history. the author takes a great many liberties as far as ascribing motives and mannerisms to the characters. This does raise some questions about which other liberties he has taken.

Nevertheless, if you are not too worried about the complete accuracy and if you are looking for an entertaining listen, this is your next audiobook. Shanghai of the 1920's and 30's is a fascinating place and for fans of pulp and noir, it checks all the boxes.

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Mesmerizing look at Old Shanghai

I have always loved Paul French's books on China, the only real author that I connect with as a historian and former ex-pat in Shanghai and Beijing. City of Devils. like his other books is a masterpiece of historical storytelling. The story is a heavily researched look into like in pre-war Shanghai. I enjoyed this book as much as I did Midnight in Peking.

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Great book

Loved the book, the details, story telling and inside view of shanghai during this wild time of vice, drugs and lawlessness.