Really, for any pulp-type RPG set during the interwar period, here are a couple of excellent books to help with setting the scene in Shanghai, the Pearl of the Orient, the Paris of the East…

The Shanghai Green Gang: Politics and Organized Crime, 1919-1937, Brian G Martin. A frequently cited work on the Qing Bang and their ties to the Kuomingtang (Nationalist government) of Chiang Kai Shek. There’s quite a bit on “Big Eared” Du Yeusheng, the gang leader.

Policing Shanghai, 1927-1937, Frederic Wakeman, Jr. Perfect for fleshing out the most dangerous city on the planet (in the 1930s.)

Beyond the Neon Lights: Everyday Shanghai in the Early Twentieth Century, Hanchao Lu. This one provides a lot of the kind of flavor that you don’t get in the usual tomes. Here you have the every day stuff — the “alleyway houses” that were standard in the city, what kind of small stores the average Chinese shopped at, the nightstool and the men who collected the waste in the morning (most of Shanghai d0esn’t have flush toilets) and that industry’s connection to the gangs. There’s stuff on the rickshaw business, which was cut throat due to licensing restrictions (think trying to get a medallion in modern NYC.) If has a few excellent maps in it, as well.

Online, Tales of Old Shanghai is a must, as is An American in China: 1936-39.


The Reluctant Imperialist: Italian Colonization in Somalia just went live at Kindle store at Amazon.com. This is a history of the early corporate-run attempts to colonize the region at the turn of the 19/20th Century.

Clickety-click to buy

Kindle reader is available for iPad, Blackberry, Android, Kindle, Mac, and PC.

Max Fleischer gives us his cartoon tour of the 1938 World’s Fair:

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