100 books like The Last Governor

By Jonathan Dimbleby,

Here are 100 books that The Last Governor fans have personally recommended if you like The Last Governor. Shepherd is a community of 11,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Making Hong Kong China: The Rollback of Human Rights and the Rule of Law

Steve Tsang Author Of A Modern History of Hong Kong: 1841-1997

From my list on Hong Kong’s history and politics.

Why am I passionate about this?

I was born in colonial Hong Kong, and my teenage rebellion was anti-colonialism. So I went on a journey to rediscover ‘mother China’ by reading and visiting the Mainland. What I saw and learned first-hand contradicted what I had read of China, primarily Communist Party propaganda. The realization that colonial Hong Kong treated its people so much better than in socialist China made me think, and started my interest in researching the history of Hong Kong. A Modern History of Hong Kong: 1841-1997 is the result, and based on years of research into the evolution of Hong Kong’s people, its British colonial rulers, as well as China’s policies towards Hong Kong.

Steve's book list on Hong Kong’s history and politics

Steve Tsang Why did Steve love this book?

Before Hong Kong people embraced the Sino-British agreement to cede Hong Kong’s sovereignty from Britain to China, China promised the people of Hong Kong they would enjoy a high degree of autonomy under the ‘one country, two systems’ framework so that their way of life and its socio-economic and political system would remain unchanged for 50 years, This ended in 2020, before the halfway point of the promised 50 years, when China imposed a National Security Law on Hong Kong that criminalized actions or speeches that people in Hong Kong were free to pursue hitherto. Davis provides a meticulous account of how China reneged its promises and rolled back human rights and the rule of law in Hong Kong.

By Michael C. Davis,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Making Hong Kong China as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

How can one of the world’s most free-wheeling cities transition from a vibrant global center of culture and finance into a subject of authoritarian control? As Beijing's anxious interference has grown, the “one country, two systems” model China promised Hong Kong has slowly drained away in the years since the 1997 handover. As “one country” seemed set to gobble up “two systems," the people of Hong Kong riveted the world’s attention in 2019 by defiantly demanding the autonomy, rule of law and basic freedoms they were promised. In 2020, the new National Security Law imposed by Beijing aimed to snuff…


Book cover of For The Love Of Hong Kong: A Memoir From My City Under Siege

Steve Tsang Author Of A Modern History of Hong Kong: 1841-1997

From my list on Hong Kong’s history and politics.

Why am I passionate about this?

I was born in colonial Hong Kong, and my teenage rebellion was anti-colonialism. So I went on a journey to rediscover ‘mother China’ by reading and visiting the Mainland. What I saw and learned first-hand contradicted what I had read of China, primarily Communist Party propaganda. The realization that colonial Hong Kong treated its people so much better than in socialist China made me think, and started my interest in researching the history of Hong Kong. A Modern History of Hong Kong: 1841-1997 is the result, and based on years of research into the evolution of Hong Kong’s people, its British colonial rulers, as well as China’s policies towards Hong Kong.

Steve's book list on Hong Kong’s history and politics

Steve Tsang Why did Steve love this book?

This is a short and very personal account by a young journalist born and brought up in Hong Kong.  As her parents are academics who had also played activist roles in Hong Kong, Hana got to know some of Hong Kong’s democracy activists and fighters from a very young age. She writes with passion about why the young people of Hong Kong fight for democracy in Chinese Hong Kong, where the prospect of success was very dim, if not non-existent. If you are interested in how Hong Kong’s young people think about democracy, this is a good starting point.

By Hana Meihan Davis,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked For The Love Of Hong Kong as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Journalist Hana Meihan Davis comes from a long line of democracy activists in Hong Kong. Today, they are either in exile or facing arrest.

Hong Kong, once a bastion of liberty and free speech, is now under the control of a repressive Chinese regime determined to silence dissent. In this searing, deeply personal memoir, Davis takes readers into the heart of her city that has come under siege -- and tells the astounding stories of the brave individuals who are resisting tyranny in a life-or-death struggle for freedom.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Hana Meihan Davis is a journalist and aspiring architect…


Book cover of Myself a Mandarin

Steve Tsang Author Of A Modern History of Hong Kong: 1841-1997

From my list on Hong Kong’s history and politics.

Why am I passionate about this?

I was born in colonial Hong Kong, and my teenage rebellion was anti-colonialism. So I went on a journey to rediscover ‘mother China’ by reading and visiting the Mainland. What I saw and learned first-hand contradicted what I had read of China, primarily Communist Party propaganda. The realization that colonial Hong Kong treated its people so much better than in socialist China made me think, and started my interest in researching the history of Hong Kong. A Modern History of Hong Kong: 1841-1997 is the result, and based on years of research into the evolution of Hong Kong’s people, its British colonial rulers, as well as China’s policies towards Hong Kong.

Steve's book list on Hong Kong’s history and politics

Steve Tsang Why did Steve love this book?

This is a beautifully written and charming old book by a colonial administrator, who left government service young and turned to writing. It provides a vivid portrait of how a District Officer in the New Territories worked in the 1950s, when modernity was beginning to change the traditional way of life in old rural Hong Kong that was fast disappearing. It shows how a young dedicated colonial administrator being tasked to act as the ‘father and mother’ for the local Chinese community found his feet and try to do the best he could.

By Austin Coates,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Myself a Mandarin as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Unexpectedly appointed magistrate in a country district in Hong Kong, the author found himself plunged into a Chinese world about which he knew next to nothing and had to learn as fast as possible. This he does, taking the reader with him through the errors, puzzles, and bafflements of sixteen court cases which came into his court.

Whether he is dealing with cows, watercress beds, squatters, dragons, quarrelling wives, or a Buddhist abbot, the author brings his reader into each case as if the reader were the actual judge, and at a given moment the solution comes to the reader…


Book cover of A City Mismanaged: Hong Kong's Struggle for Survival

Steve Tsang Author Of A Modern History of Hong Kong: 1841-1997

From my list on Hong Kong’s history and politics.

Why am I passionate about this?

I was born in colonial Hong Kong, and my teenage rebellion was anti-colonialism. So I went on a journey to rediscover ‘mother China’ by reading and visiting the Mainland. What I saw and learned first-hand contradicted what I had read of China, primarily Communist Party propaganda. The realization that colonial Hong Kong treated its people so much better than in socialist China made me think, and started my interest in researching the history of Hong Kong. A Modern History of Hong Kong: 1841-1997 is the result, and based on years of research into the evolution of Hong Kong’s people, its British colonial rulers, as well as China’s policies towards Hong Kong.

Steve's book list on Hong Kong’s history and politics

Steve Tsang Why did Steve love this book?

This is a cogent book on how Hong Kong’s Government has squandered a magnificent inheritance, a vibrant, energetic, and entrepreneurial people willing to engage with the government by neglecting their social rights. Goodstadt does so by examining housing, medical services, and education policy, as well as Hong Kong’s all important relationship with Mainland China. It is a readable piece of serious scholarship by someone who had served as the head of the government’s Central Policy Unit for over a decade in British Hong Kong. It explains the background to the social discontent that underpinned the massive protests of 2019, which triggered a dramatic change in China’s policy towards Hong Kong.

By Leo F. Goodstadt,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A City Mismanaged as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A City Mismanaged traces the collapse of good governance in Hong Kong, explains its causes, and exposes the damaging impact on the community’s quality of life. Leo Goodstadt argues that the current well-being and future survival of Hong Kong have been threatened by disastrous policy decisions made by chief executives and their principal officials. Individual chapters look at the most shocking examples of mismanagement: the government’s refusal to implement the Basic Law in full; official reluctance to halt the large-scale dilapidation of private sector homes into accommodation unfit for habitation; and ministerial toleration of the rise of new slums. Mismanagement…


Book cover of The Impossible City

Stephen Vines Author Of Defying the Dragon: Hong Kong and the World's Largest Dictatorship

From my list on Hong Kong and China.

Why am I passionate about this?

I came to Hong Kong as a journalist in 1987, expecting to stay a few years and then move on to the next story. But the former British colony quickly got its teeth into me, not least because I was there during the tumultuous years of transition to Chinese rule. I am always in the market to understand more about this wonderful place, which I left reluctantly in 2021 in fear that the fast-bellowing crackdown on freedom of speech was coming my way. Departure has, if anything, given me a greater appetite for reading more about Hong Kong and China. I hope these books will explain why this is so.

Stephen's book list on Hong Kong and China

Stephen Vines Why did Stephen love this book?

In many ways this is the quintessential Hong Kong book because its very style and approach is, as the title says, somewhat impossible, mixing the intensely personal with the political, closely observed reflections and a large collection of unique Hong Kong voices.

Written during and after the 2019/20 protests, Cheung throws her net wide to give the reader an intimate picture of the real Hong Kong, an exasperating and wonderful place. She is the youngest of the authors I have recommended and, therefore, closer to the generation who gave rise to the protests. People often speak of the unique Hong Kong spirit in Hong Kong, and this book gives profound insight into what that means.

By Karen Cheung,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Impossible City as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A boldly rendered—and deeply intimate—account of Hong Kong today, from a resilient young woman whose stories explore what it means to survive in a city teeming with broken promises.

“[A] pulsing debut . . . about what it means to find your place in a city as it vanishes before your eyes.”—The New York Times Book Review

ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR: The Washington Post

Hong Kong is known as a place of extremes: a former colony of the United Kingdom that now exists at the margins of an ascendant China; a city rocked by mass protests,…


Book cover of Ornamentalism: How the British Saw Their Empire

Iwan Rhys Morus Author Of How the Victorians Took Us to the Moon: The Story of the 19th-Century Innovators Who Forged Our Future

From my list on books that will blow your minds about the Victorians.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m fascinated by the Victorians – and I’ve spent most of my career trying to understand them – because they’re so like us and so unlike us in many ways. They’re familiar and unfamiliar at the same time. I’m a historian of science, and I’m passionate about trying to understand why we think about the world – and about science – the way we do. I think it started with the Victorians, so understanding them really matters and getting it right rather than repeating the same old stories. I hope these books will help you put the Victorians in their place the way they helped me.

Iwan's book list on books that will blow your minds about the Victorians

Iwan Rhys Morus Why did Iwan love this book?

We’ve all seen them, those big British spectaculars – at royal coronations, funerals, and weddings. What I admire most about Cannadine’s book is the way he doesn’t just remind us that the Victorians invented all this but why it was so important to them too.

The Victorians were in love with spectacle – and making spectacles of themselves (think about those big Victorian dresses!) Cannadine is great at putting spectacle at the centre of their political world, too. Showing off was a way of showing power.

By David Cannadine,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Ornamentalism as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

With the return of Hong Kong to the Chinese government in 1997, the empire that had lasted three hundred years and "upon which the sun never set" finally lost its hold on the world and slipped into history. But the question of how we understand the British Empire--its origins, nature, purpose, and effect on the world it ruled--is far from settled. In this incisive work, David Cannadine looks at the British Empire from a new perspective--through the eyes of those who created and ruled it--and offers fresh insight into the driving forces behind the Empire. Arguing against the views of…


Book cover of The Age of Water

Joe Kilgore Author Of Misfortune’s Wake

From my list on expat adventures.

Why am I passionate about this?

In a previous career, I traveled extensively to many parts of the world. I always found new cultures, old traditions, strange languages, and exotic environments fascinating. Perhaps even more fascinating, were the expats I found who had traded in their home country for an existence far from where they were born and different from how they were reared. In many instances, I’ve attempted to incorporate—in Heinlein’s words—this stranger in a strange land motif in my work. It always seems to heighten my interest. I hope the reader’s as well. 

Joe's book list on expat adventures

Joe Kilgore Why did Joe love this book?

This novel brings readers up close and personal with Hong Kong. Clarke is a young Englishman doing a banking stint in the fabled city. He lives a relatively sedate existence in his corporately antiseptic neighborhood. But one day he decides to get off his beaten path and winds up having his life changed dramatically. He becomes enamored with a shantytown prostitute, embroiled in the geopolitical struggle with Mainland China, and involved in a potential swindle of international proportions. In addition to spinning an interesting tale, Craft is also able to weave in the ticking time bomb of environmental hazards that plague the area without pious preaching and totally within the confines of the story he’s telling. 

By Sean Craft,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Age of Water as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Rivers had become toxic and the ocean shore is a sea of plastic: there's money to be made. But for Philip Clarke, handsome, clever, and decidedly available, that world seemed a distraction from an altogether different one, where the possibilities of pleasure overwrote the machinery of commerce.

Newly arrived in Hong Kong, his island world lay somewhere between the looming shadow of China, and its strange double downtown, where bankers and brokers breathed the same crowded air as a new breed of political activists. In his mind, he was thankfully immune from both.

But the tranquillity of his island home…


Book cover of Modern China: a Guide to a Century of Change

Stephen Vines Author Of Defying the Dragon: Hong Kong and the World's Largest Dictatorship

From my list on Hong Kong and China.

Why am I passionate about this?

I came to Hong Kong as a journalist in 1987, expecting to stay a few years and then move on to the next story. But the former British colony quickly got its teeth into me, not least because I was there during the tumultuous years of transition to Chinese rule. I am always in the market to understand more about this wonderful place, which I left reluctantly in 2021 in fear that the fast-bellowing crackdown on freedom of speech was coming my way. Departure has, if anything, given me a greater appetite for reading more about Hong Kong and China. I hope these books will explain why this is so.

Stephen's book list on Hong Kong and China

Stephen Vines Why did Stephen love this book?

This is a monumental work; you could describe it as a mini encyclopedia covering a vast swathe of information about post-revolutionary China. 

First published in 2000, it needs updating, but I always have it to hand because it is so well-written and informative. Hutchings is a distinguished journalist with a historian’s mind, so in each of the pithy entries, he skillfully brings the subjects he covers alive.

By Graham Hutchings,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Modern China as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In the new millennium all eyes are on China, which many believe has the potential in the near future to rise to world prominence as a political leader and an economic powerhouse. Yet several aspects of Chinese society remain an obstacle to internal growth and of deep concern to the outside world.

In Modern China Graham Hutchings offers a timely and useful reference guide to the people, places, ideas, and events crucial to an understanding of this rising power. The focus is on society and politics and their impact on both China and the world. After an introduction that discusses…


Book cover of Indelible City: Dispossession and Defiance in Hong Kong

Stephen Vines Author Of Defying the Dragon: Hong Kong and the World's Largest Dictatorship

From my list on Hong Kong and China.

Why am I passionate about this?

I came to Hong Kong as a journalist in 1987, expecting to stay a few years and then move on to the next story. But the former British colony quickly got its teeth into me, not least because I was there during the tumultuous years of transition to Chinese rule. I am always in the market to understand more about this wonderful place, which I left reluctantly in 2021 in fear that the fast-bellowing crackdown on freedom of speech was coming my way. Departure has, if anything, given me a greater appetite for reading more about Hong Kong and China. I hope these books will explain why this is so.

Stephen's book list on Hong Kong and China

Stephen Vines Why did Stephen love this book?

Louisa Lim has a deep knowledge of Hong Kong. In this book, she uses her considerable journalistic skills to reflect the voices of the people involved in the 2019/20 protest movement.

She also examines the profound cultural changes that have taken place in Hong Kong, offering real insight from a side view.

By Louisa Lim,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Indelible City as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A NEW YORK TIMES NOTABLE BOOK OF THE YEAR

An award-winning journalist and longtime Hong Konger indelibly captures the place, its people, and the untold history they are claiming, just as it is being erased.

The story of Hong Kong has long been dominated by competing myths: to Britain, a “barren rock” with no appreciable history; to China, a part of Chinese soil from time immemorial, at last returned to the ancestral fold. For decades, Hong Kong’s history was simply not taught, especially to Hong Kongers, obscuring its origins as a place of refuge and rebellion. When protests erupted in…


5 book lists we think you will like!

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