Bowring’s impact was spread over so many fields that his name has been eclipsed by those with a narrower focus. This book brings his life and disparate achievements together, with a particular emphasis on his role in promoting free trade and his much criticized career in Asia.
“John Bowring (1792–1872) was one of the most interesting and influential of Hong Kong’s Governors. The career of this polymath exemplified an understanding of the relationship between economic and political freedom. This scholarly and very readable biography, written by one of Asia’s most distinguished journalists, shows how free trade became part of Hong Kong’s DNA.”
—Chris Patten, Governor of Hong Kong, 1992–97
“Biographers shun polymaths. As a linguistic genius, free-wheeling entrepreneur, hymnist, colonial governor, Oriental plenipotentiary and the champion of self-determination, freedom of conscience and, above all, free trade, Bowring has had to wait nearly 150 years for a comprehensive but candid account that does justice to his extraordinary range of achievements. That it comes from a kinsman with an equal breadth of vision is an added bonus.”
—John Keay, author of China: A History and The Honourable Company: A History of the English East India Company
“One hundred and forty years after his death, John Bowring finally has the biography his eventful and enterprising life deserves. From the pages of this fast-paced and well-written biography, Bowring emerges not as the heinous villain who tricked Britain into launching a nasty imperialist war against China in 1858, but as a multifaceted character dedicated to political reform, religious freedom, and above all free trade. Philip Bowring acknowledges that John Bowring was vain, prone to overhasty action, and lacking in judgment, but also that he lived his life by the ideas for which he stood, had an astonishing command of foreign languages, was a dedicated family man, and made an impact throughout East and Southeast Asia which is still felt in many ways today. This is a remarkable book on a remarkable life.”
—Hans van de Ven, Professor of Modern Chinese History, Cambridge University
Philip Bowring is a journalist based in Asia since 1973 variously as correspondent for the Financial Times, editor of the Far Eastern Economic Review, and columnist for the International Herald Tribune,Wall Street Journal and South China Morning Post. He is distantly related to Sir John Bowring.
Edith Hahn was an outspoken young woman in Vienna when the Gestapo forced her into a ghetto and then into a slave labor camp. When she returned home months later, she knew she would become a hunted woman and went underground. With the help of a Christian friend, she emerged in Munich as Grete Denner. There she met Werner Vetter, a Nazi Party member who fell in love with her. Despite Edith's protests and even her eventual confession that she was Jewish, he married her and kept her identity a secret.
In wrenching detail, Edith recalls a life of constant, almost paralyzing fear. She tells how German officials casually questioned the lineage of her parents; how during childbirth she refused all painkillers, afraid that in an altered state of mind she might reveal something of her past; and how, after her husband was captured by the Soviets, she was bombed out of her house and had to hide while drunken Russian soldiers raped women on the street.
Despite the risk it posed to her life, Edith created a remarkable record of survival. She saved every document, as well as photographs she took inside labor camps. Now part of the permanent collection at the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., these hundreds of documents, several of which are included in this volume, form the fabric of a gripping new chapter in the history of the Holocaust—complex, troubling, and ultimately triumphant.