Books and Films

My second book (click the cover for link to Amazon page) will be published in March 2014:

Below is my first book, published in 2010, now available on kindle as well as paperback (click book cover image to access Amazon page):


I work with the following agencies to lead guided tours of Shanghai, usually with a historical focus.  These include my "Musical History Tour" otherwise known as my "Jazz Tour" of the French Concession, and my "Revolutionary Tour" of the French Concession and others.  To book a tour please contact one of the following agencies or else write to me directly at

Context Travel: contact  sophie[at]

Far East Expeditions, contact: cindyshi70[at]

Shanghai Flaneur, contact:  ychu[at]

Shanghai Community Center, contact:  Jenny Zhu:

Imperial Tours, contact:  valeria[at]


This documentary film, co-produced with Willmountain Films in Shanghai, has screened at film festivals worldwide.  We are still searching for a distributor for this epic piece of rock history in China.  For more info contact me at andrewdavidfield[at]

798 Arts District Academia alumni Amy Chua apocatropolis Art Art Deco Astronomy Australia Ba Jin Bad Girl Fiction Beijing Beijing Olympics blues Blues and Jazz Bob Dylan Book Review Book Reviews Buddhism bund Cchinese culture CChinese Indie Rock Chairman Mao Changsha Chen Liangyu China China Bounder China Journalism Chinese Cinema chinese culture Chinese Folk Music chinese history Chinese Indie Rock Chinese Intellectuals Chinese Literature Chinese Minorities Chinese Mothers Chinese New Year Chinglish Christine Choi CIEE Coco Zhao Columbia University Comet McNaught Contemporary Chinese Art Courtesans Cui Jian D22 dancing Darfur dartmouth college David Spindler Democracy Digital Media City Documentary Film Dongtan drama Driving in China earthquake ECNU Campus Eco-City Ed Lanfranco Education ehwa university Environment Ethnicity Family food Frederic Wakeman French Concession French Concession Tour Genocide Global Warming Globalization Great Wall Greg Girard H-ASIA Helen Feng Hollywood Hostesses Hunan Hutongs Interview Iraq James Farrer jazz Jia Zhangke John Cusack Kaiser Kuo Korea Literature on China Live Music long bar Lu Xun Lynn Pan Mao Livehouse Mao Years Mao Zedong MCLC Media and Censorship moganshan lu mountain climbing Mu Shiying Multimedia Muse Music night nightlife NYU NYU Shanghai Old Beijing Old Shanghai Olympics Pamela Crossley Paramount Ballroom park Parks and Gardens Peace Hotel Peter Hessler Phebe 3D Piano plays poetry Policing Shanghai Politics Preservation Propaganda public manners Putuoshan Railways Red Collector rock concert Seoul Sex Sex in China shanghai Shanghai Bund Shanghai Fox-trot Shanghai Literary Festival Shanghai Photography Shanghai's Dancing World shaoxing sichuan Snapline Songdo sports Spring Steve Sweeting students Study Abroad Programs SUBS summer program Sustainability Suzhou Sydney tess johnston Thomas Dolby Tianzifang Tibet traffic Transportation travel TwoCities Gallery Ullens Center Uluru UNSW Victor Mair Video Wei Hui Whitey Smith William T. de Bary World Expo xintiandi Xu Jilin Yangzi River Yonsei University zhabei Zhabei Park Zhang Ailing Zhoushan Islands Ziyo


<<Walter Benjamin: A Critical Life>>: book review

Recently I finished reading this wonderful biography of Walter Benjamin.  I was inspired to contribute a review to the Amazon website.  Here it is:

I have long been fascinated by the life story and the writings of Walter Benjamin. Benjamin's life and works have taken on mythical powers over the past decades. This book combines a painstakingly detailed account of his life with deep critical analyses of his works, richly contextualized within the framework of his life story. It is a stunning work of scholarship, which reconstructs his life through his own letters and other documents as well as those of his friends and others in the circles in which he traveled.

The book traces the odyssey of Walter Benjamin, including all of the places he lived in or visited, his relations with other writers and artists, his love affairs, his broken marriage, and his long phase of exile in Paris, leading to his final moment in Port Bou, where he took his own life in 1940. Of particular interest to me was his relationship with Bertolt Brecht and the long periods they spent together.

Benjamin comes across as an intellectual vagabond, constantly seeking but never finding a permanent home in this world. He stubbornly maintains his integrity, refusing to take on any work outside of his calling as an intellectual and a writer, even though he is snubbed repeatedly by academia. His desperate efforts to sustain his own lifestyle, particularly in his later years, make him resemble his own figure of the "ragpicker"--hunting for scraps to support himself, and left to the largesse of his friends and associates, particularly those who recognized his genius.

As the progression towards WWII picks up, the story becomes a Gravity's Rainbowesque tale full of picaresque characters who hinder or aid Benjamin in his quest to survive long enough to publish his greatest works. This book thus reads as much like a novel as a biography. No stone is left unturned--the authors even recreate the interior decor of the apartments he inhabited, including the artworks that he lovingly fixed to their walls. Among them is the famous Angel of Paul Klee, which he carried around almost to the end of his life, and which becomes the allegorical figure in one of his most chilling passages on history--the angel who is blown forward in time by the winds, but always looking back to the wreckage of history as it accumulates before him. This metaphor well describes Benjamin's own precarious existence as he hurtles towards his demise, pursued by Hitler's Furies.

Paul Klee's Angelus Novus, which Benjamin hung on his walls for many years.  Found this image on this website which has passages from Benjamin's "On the Concept of History"


A Great List of Books and Films on Old Shanghai

At risk of sounding narcissistic, I was just googling my own name to see what comes up (at least I don't post selfies on facebook!) and on the Frommers website I found this excellent listing of books and films about Shanghai history.  Can't recommend it highly enough to those interested in learning about our fair city (and not just because my book Shanghai's Dancing World is on the list--and if you made this list, please update it to include my book on Mu Shiying!)



"The Beautiful and Damned:" Including a Review of Mu Shiying: China's Lost Modernist

Here's a link to a review of my book on Mu Shiying by Maura Cunningham, published on the LA Review of Books blog site:



Shanghai Art Deco Weekend: A Talk on the Paramount Ballroom of the 1930s

Last weekend, on November 2, I gave a talk to a select audience for the Art Deco Weekend organized by Patrick Cranley.  Below is the schedule for the event.  Afterwards I accompanied many of the audience members on a walking tour with Spencer Dodington, who led us on a tour of the old buildings of the Jing'an District, starting at the Paramount Ballroom.

I recorded my talk and made a video by adding the slides I showed as well as some footage I shot in 2012 of a dance party at the Paramount Ballroom.  

Below is the schedule of events for the Art Deco Weekend.


Sat, Nov 01        11月01日

10:00am    Historic Preservation in Shanghai

                  Prof. Ruan Yisan, Tongji University

11.00am    Laszlo Hudec: The Race Course Buildings

                  Virag Csejdy, Curator, Hudec Heritage Project

12:00pm    Lunch – Jinjiang Metropolo Classiq YMCA

1-3:00pm   Around the Race Course - walking tour

6:00pm      Art Deco Cocktails

Special Art Deco-era drinks on offer at the Glamour Bar for only RMB 58


Sun, Nov 02        11月02日

10:00am    Shanghai Art Deco Design

                  Karolina Pawlik, University of Silesia / Shanghai University

11.00am    Shanghai’s Art Deco Nightclubs

                  Dr. Andrew Field, author of Shanghai’s Dancing World

12:00pm    Lunch – Jinjiang Metropolo Classiq YMCA

1:00pm     Art Deco along Bubbling Well Road - walking tour

6:00pm     Art Deco Cocktails



Another review of Mu Shiying

I just received news of a very favorable review by Frederik H. Green of my book, Mu Shiying:  China's Lost Modernist, for the e-journal MCLC.  The review may be found on this web page.

Time to celebrate with a night on the town, once I've recovered from this head cold I caught whilst on a company retreat in Moganshan.  James Farrer is in town now, and we have some more follow-up research to do for our upcoming book, Shanghai Nightscapes!