King Hui

“A remarkably accessible depiction of life under British and Japanese control … it effectively exposes the sordid underbelly of colonial society as we’re led down a path of scandal, corruption, drugs, espionage, and of course pirates, providing a fascinating alternative to the often stuffy discourse on the subject. The book is an incredibly informative read, and a must for all Hong Kong enthusiasts.” – Sam Burrough, HK Magazine

“Hui’s story gives us glimpses of a Hong Kong – the opium dens, the pool halls, the nightclubs, the casinos and the girls, girls, girls – not adequately reflected in official histories of the city.  Suzie Wong, the cinematic representation of the Hong Kong of this era, could have been Hui’s girlfriend – at least before William Holden butted in. …The book’s biggest achievement, however, is that its protagonist’s triumphs and tragedies wind up underscoring the dynamism of the city and the times that shaped him.” – Kent Ewing, Asia Times 

“Like the city in which it's set and the character whose story it tells, this book is by turns appealing and infuriating, exotic and banal, brutally frank and outrageously over-the-top. Peter Hui was, among other things, a playboy, kung fu fighter, wartime collaborator with the Japanese, tailor, tombola operator, triad associate, restaurant manager and mastermind of armed robberies. A slight and dapper man, he was also a great charmer, drinker, gambler and womaniser. "Fooling around" is his favourite expression. He comes over as vain, deceitful, superficial, aggressive, misogynistic and amoral.
But he's also a damn good story-teller. And his life makes a damn good story. Just how true it is, who knows? Somehow, though, the self-portrait that emerges is both entertaining and convincing. And it also amounts to a magnificently entertaining and convincing portrait of Hong Kong itself. Not the stunted Special Administrative Region of today, nor the stuffy British colonial society of yesterday, but the stomach-churning, free-wheeling, money-making, all-singing all-dancing all-horse racing side of Hong Kong as lived by Hong Kong people for most of the 20th century. The real Hong Kong, which has seldom before been captured in print -- at least in English.
All credit then to author Jonathan Chamberlain for not turning off his microphone in disbelief or disgust as his subject, whiling away his lonely and impecunious old age, continued his life story night after night with a string of ever more unlikely former careers and conquests - amorous, pugilistic or otherwise. And for not over-editing it afterwards.” - Tim Luard, former China correspondent, BBC and author of Escape from Hong Kong

“Mr. Hui, whose luck was as fickle as Hong Kong’s modern history, claims to have bounced from rags to riches more than once, in the process encountering opium dens, brothels, Hong Kong’s pre-World War II high society, Japanese occupiers and Red Guards. Because of his whimsical attitude toward money and underworld and upper-class connections, Mr. Hui’s tales range across almost every imaginable stratum of Hong Kong society.” – Paul Mozur, Far Eastern Economic Review

“From time to time, I have the pleasure of meeting a person who can recount an episode of his or her life that is so captivating, I cease to care whether or not I believe the storyteller. I even know a few people who are full of such stories. I have never, however, had the delight of meeting someone with the breadth of stories told in King Hui: The Man who Owned all the Opium in Hong Kong by Jonathan Chamberlain. These are the stories, presented as a first person narrative, of Peter (Shen-Kei) Hui, an uncommon, though largely unknown, man with an astounding range of experience. Told shortly before his death at the age of 79 in 1993, the stories reflect not only the man, but also the times he lived through.” – Inside-Out China

King Hui gives an insightful, street-side view of Hong Kong through the 20th century. The turbulent events battering Hui and others turn this eye-witness account into a solid history book… Hui’s colorful memories and lively narrative will inform and entertain most readers, but he’s very self-serving. Reading King Hui forces a judgment call. Was Peter Hui a rogue or hero?” Cairns Media Magazine

“Chamberlain does a masterful job of relaying to his readers Peter’s voice as he peels away a life that is as incredulous as the world that contained it. Moreover, as he spins his engaging tale, readers get a good taste of the intoxicating good times he enjoyed, while at the same time questioning his priorities and self-interest in not providing more for his family.” – Norm Goldman, BookPleasures

“Written in the first person, it is a rich account of Hong Kong (and at times Guangzhou) as seen at street-level: family life, food, schools, shops, and corruption, vice and squalor, set against a backdrop of colonial rule, Japanese invasion and communist revolution. The details are often fascinating; for example, details about how some Hongkongers prospered under Japanese occupation. ” Hemlock’s Diary

“true story that reads like a novel. A cracking read”  - Sir David Tang Wing-cheung.”

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