Author(s): Christopher Frayling
A hundred years ago, a character made his first appearance in the world of literature who was to enter the bloodstream of 20th-century popular culture: the evil genius called Dr Fu Manchu, described at the beginning of the first story in which he appeared as the yellow peril incarnate in one man. Why did the idea that the Chinese were a threat to Western civilization develop at precisely the time when that country was in chaos, divided against itself, victim of successive famines and utterly incapable of being a peril to anyone even if it had wanted to be? Here, Sir Christopher Frayling assembles an astonishing diversity of evidence to show how deeply ingrained Chinaphobia became in the West so acutely relevant again in the new era of Chinese superpower.
Along the way he talks to Edward Said, to the last Governor of Hong Kong, to Sax Rohmers widow, to movie stars and a host of others; he journeys through the opium dens of the 19th century with Charles Dickens; takes us to the heart of popular culture in the music hall, pulp literature and the mass-market press; and shows how film amplifies our assumptions, demonstrating throughout how we neglect the history of popular culture at our own peril if we want to understand our deepest desires and fears.