Paul French's new book is Midnight in Peking. It is the true-crime tale of the murder of a British diplomat's daughter in Peking just before World War II.
From his Q & A with Randy Dotinga at the Christian Science Monitor:
Q: What was happening in Peking – now Beijing – in early 1937, when the young woman was so viciously murdered?--Marshal Zeringue
A: This was absolutely the last gasp of old China. The Japanese have surrounded Peking, and it's not really a question of if Japan is going to invade China, but when.
Q: What did her murder mean in the larger picture?
A: In January 1937, she became a great symbol for foreigners and citizens alike in Peking about how bad things could get. If this could happen to a foreign privileged girl, what chances would anybody else have?
Later in 1937, the Japanese would invade and occupy Peking, bomb Shanghai, and commit the Rape of Nanking. That would leave the British Empire weak in facing the Japanese, and in a year Hong Kong, Singapore, and Malaya would be gone to Japan. And we know what happened then.
Q: How did you come across this story?
A: I learned about it by reading a footnote in...[read on]