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]


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!


The recordings of Whitey Smith, the Jazz-Man who Taught China to Dance

Whitey Smith was one of Shanghai's most cherished jazz bandleaders during the 1920s and 1930s.  His autobiography, I Didn't Make a Million, tells his story.  In a nutshell, as a young jazz drummer, Whitey was "discovered" in San Francisco by the nightclub owner Louis Ladow in 1922, and agreed to sail to Shanghai to form a jazz band to play in Ladow's new club, the Carlton Cafe.  When the club folded he got work playing at the Astor House and later at the Majestic Hotel after in opened in 1925.  It was at the Majestic Hotel ballroom that Whitey taught China to dance (in the words of Pearl Buck) by incorporating Chinese folk elements into his repertoire, and by simplifying the complex harmonies and orchestrations of his tunes.  

He also recorded his own songs.  "Nighttime in Old Shanghai" is his most well-known song, which is available on an album of "Oriental" jazz tunes.  Taking a newsreel from 1929, featuring Whitey's band performing in the garden of the Majestic Hotel to a group of elegant Chinese dancers, I added this song and put it up on youtube.

Recently I found a file online of his complete recordings (as known).  I do have one of his other recordings, "To a Wild Rose," but don't have any others.  Would appreciate if anyone knows where to find them.



A review of Mu Shiying: China's Lost Modernist in Asian Review of Books

Here is a favorable (it seems) review of my latest book from John Butler, just sent to me by my publisher.  


Announcing our New Book: Shanghai Nightscapes (to be published within the next year or so)


(I shot this photo at Zapatas in 2008--James is on the far right)

Over the next few months, as we gear it up for publication with U Chicago Press later, I'll be making some more announcements about my upcoming book, Shanghai Nightscapes, co-authored with James Farrer.  This book uses the methods of the historian, sociologist, and ethnographer to trace a century of Shanghai's history through the lens of its nightlife, with a focus on establishments featuring dancing and/or drinking in a public social environment as their main activities.  Here is a section of our working manuscript discussing how we wrote the book:

Writing this Book

This book is based on our twenty years of intermittent fieldwork and writing in and about Shanghai, which began for both of us in the 1990s as dissertation research resulting in each author’s first book.[i] In between, we have organized conferences related to this project, published articles, some of which are the bases of chapters here, produced documentary films, and even led tours of Shanghai nightlife.[ii] In the year 2000 we began serious discussion on the new project to connect history with sociology and a narrative of Republican Era nightlife with the nightlife emerging after 1980, using materials we have not published before, and an entire new body of ethnographic fieldwork beginning in 2001.

Our methodology is a combination of historiographic and ethnographic methods using multiple data sets generated over these two decades. We use Chinese, English and some Japanese texts, including newspapers, magazines, novels, archival records, and websites, depending on the period we are describing. We used our Chinese and English (and occasionally Japanese) language skills to interview dozens of key players in the city’s nightlife industry, including club and bar managers, owners, musicians, DJs, staff, hostesses, and other workers. In addition, we also conducted informal conversations and lengthy face-to-face interviews with a wide range of nightlife patrons, who varied in terms of their national and regional origins, ages, gender, tastes, income levels, and sexual orientations.[iii] Over many more than a thousand nights out from 1993 to 2014, we visited nightlife establishments located throughout the city, and took notes regarding their designs, décor, music, social compositions and interactions. Key informants – male, female, Chinese, non-Chinese, straight and gay –guided our visits, filled in the gaps in our research and pointed out our blind spots.[iv] For each of the contemporary venues that are described at length in the book we did all these things, visiting them at least a dozen times (in some cases becoming regulars over several years), while interviewing key players and patrons. Many of these people are our friends. Indeed, the two authors met each other for the first time in a bar in Shanghai in 1996 (the Hit House bar featured in Chapter 5), and now after twenty years of intermittent fieldwork and writing, we hope this book is a fitting tribute to Shanghai’s urban nightscapes and all the friendships that began there.


[i] Field Shanghai’s Dancing World; James Farrer, Opening Up: Youth sex culture and market reform in Shanghai (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2002).

[ii] The journal special issue that emerged out of a conference at Sophia University, see China – An International Journal  6(1) (March 2008). Andrew Field and Jud Willmont produced and directed an independent documentary film, Down:  Indie Rock in the PRC, focusing on the Chinese indie rock scene. See for details about this documentary film. Field also produced a short film about Shanghai’s jazz and blues scenes that has not yet been released, and he still occasionally gives tours of Shanghai’s historic nightlife districts.

[iii] The interview excerpts in this book are from interviews conducted by Farrer or Field, and in a few cases by a research assistant.  For public figures such as bar owners, we use real names. For regular patrons, we use only pseudonyms. Pseudonyms are indicated by quotes in the text or the footnotes. In most cases interviews were recorded and transcribed by assistants, or in the case of ethnographic field interviews, were written up by the interviewers directly after the conversation. Given that this book combines interviews from many different studies, it is impossible to account the number of informants for this book but it would be in the hundreds.

[iv] We realize that for some readers this assurance of multiple viewpoints provided by key informants is not enough. Some might question if two white, “straight” American men can interview Chinese women, gay Chinese men, even if they have the language skills and years of local knowledge that we have. Frankly, we do not share this view, but rather strongly believe in the possibilities of intersubjective recognition and understanding across the boundaries of presumed gender, racial, national, and sexual difference. The alternative is a solipsistic view of research in which we can only study someone virtually identical to ourselves. For a view similar to ours see Robert Weiss, Learning From Strangers: The Art and Method of Qualitative Research Studies (New York: Free Press, 1995). Weiss is also our primary guidebook to the art of individual in-depth interviewing.



Book Talk at Italian Chamber of Commerce in China 

Dear All,
The SPWG with the Italian Chamber of Commerce in China invites you to our next meeting on April 23th at 18:00 in Shanghai. Our guests Mr. Andrew David Field (Associate Dean at Hult International Business Schoolwill present Shanghai Metropolis - from history to the future and his new book Mu Shiying: China’s Lost Modernist

Every month, million people move from tha past to the future. Pouring into developing-world "instant cities" like Shanghai and Shenzhen, these urban newcomers confront a modern world cobbled together from fragments of a West they have never seen. Do these fantastical boomtowns, where blueprints spring to life overnight on virgin land, represent the dawning of a brave new world? Or is their vaunted newness a mirage? 


Join Shanghai historian Andrew David Field for a celebration of his new book, Mu Shiying: China’s Lost Modernist. He will discuss Mu’s life and times and why his writings are still relevant and applicable to China today. He will also read passages from Mu’s short stories, including “Shanghai Fox-trot” and “Craven A”.

Please confirm your attendance by email in advance 
Agenda of the meeting:

18:00 – 18:05 Welcome 
18:05 – 18:15 Presentation of SPWG (L. Riccardi)
18.15 – 19.15 Shanghai Metropolis - Mu Shiying (A. Field)
19.15 – 19.30 Q&A

Address: 上海市黄浦区中山南路28号久事大厦附楼(近东门路)
5th Floor, Fesco-Adecco Building, No. 28 South ZhongShan Road, Shanghai 200010, P.R.C.