Books, Lit Fests, News, Movies, Art, Fashion and TV of course... "I must say that I find television very educational. The minute somebody turns it on, I go to the library and read a book." - GROUCHO MARX

My Photo

I'd write more, like you said I should. If only, there was more to me.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007


That's Pete Spurrier of Blacksmith Books in Hong Kong. Lots of things had happened when I read 'Hong Kong on Air.' Mercifully, I'm grounded for a bit and not too many things will go wrong when I start reading 'King Hui: The Man Who Owned All the Opium in Hong Kong' by Jonathan Chamberlain.

I've yet to get the book, though Pete's media announcement has me eagerly waiting for a package in the post....

Nelson was an ordinary American serviceman who had spent too long in Guam. Now, for the first time in years, he was on R&R (rest and recreation) in Hong Kong. It was the late 1960s and he had money to burn. He made his intentions clear to the hotel staff the minute he got in and they passed the word to Peter – and a short time later Peter was knocking on the door of Nelson’s room. Nelson wanted clothes – they all wanted clothes – and he wanted a woman – they all wanted a woman. And there were plenty of women to be had.....

Peter made his living selling the clothes and from being a friend to servicemen like Nelson. So Peter took Nelson in hand and introduced him to a girl. He next saw Nelson some days later and Nelson was in love. He had bought his girl an apartment and well, the last Peter heard, Nelson had spent all his money and had been shipped back to Guam. And the girl? Well, she had an apartment. Not a bad reward for providing a week or so of constant companionship. Just another crazy story from a crazy time?

But who was Peter? What was his story?

Well, before he took to being a tailor he had been variously a famous kung fu fighter; a rich playboy; a gambler; an associate of triads – and, before all that, he had been the owner of the biggest string of Mongolian ponies at the Hong Kong Jockey Club – that was during the war years when he was a leading collaborator of the Japanese. He had once, for a very short time, owned all the opium in Hong Kong!

This is the true, bizarre story of a man who knew everybody and saw everything. He wasn’t an evil man. But it is not just one man’s tale. It is the story of a time and place – colonial Hong Kong, Portuguese Macau and the South China hinterland between Hong Kong and Canton – seen from the unique point of view of a man who was at home at all levels of society.

Book Details
Title: King Hui: The Man Who Owned All the Opium in Hong Kong
Author: Jonathan Chamberlain, with a foreword by David Tang
Pages: 348
Cover price: US$17.95
Publishing Date: December 2007

Labels: , ,