In Shanghai's prime, no city in the Orient, or the world for that matter, could compare with it. At the peak of its spectacular career the swamp-ridden metropolis surely ranked as the most pleasure-mad, rapacious, corrupt, strife-ridden, licentious, squalid, and decadent city in the world. It was the most pleasure-mad because nowhere else did the population pursue amusement, from feasting to whoring, dancing to powder-taking, with such abandoned zeal. It was rapacious because greed was its driving force; strife-ridden because calamity was always at the door; licentious because it catered to every depravity known to man; squalid because misery stared one brazenly in the face; and decadent because morality, as every Shanghai resident knew, was irrelevant. The missionaries might rail at Shanghai's wickedness and reformers condemn its iniquities, but there was never reason for the city to mend its errant ways, for as a popular Chinese saying aptly observed, "Shanghai is like the emperor's ugly daughter; she never has to worry about finding suitors." Other great cities - Rome, Athens, or St. Petersburg, for instance - might flatter themselves that they had been conceived for virtuous, even heroic, purposes. Not so the ugly daughter who reveled in her bastard status. Half Oriental, half Occidental: half land, half water; neither a colony nor wholly belonging to China; inhabited by the citizens of every nation in the world but ruled by none, the emperor's ugly daughter was an anomaly among cities. The strange fruit of a forced union between East and West, this mongrel princess came into the world through a grasping premise-the right of one nation to foist a poisonous drug upon another. Born in greed and humiliation, the ugly daughter grew up in the shadow of the Celestial Empire's defeat by outsiders in the Opium War. Nonetheless, within decades, she had become Asia's greatest metropolis, a brash sprawling juggernaut of a city that dominated the rest of the country with its power, sophistication, and, most of all money.
shanghais quotesprime quotescity quotesorient quotesworld quotesmatter quotescompare quotespeak quotesspectacular quotescareer quotesswampridden quotesmetropolis quotessurely quotesranked quotespleasuremad quotesrapacious quotescorrupt quotesstriferidden quoteslicentious quotessqualid quotesdecadent quotesworld quotespleasuremad quotespopulation quotespursue quotesamusement quotesfeasting quoteswhoring quotesdancing quotespowdertaking quotesabandoned quoteszeal quotesrapacious quotesgreed quotesdriving quotesforce quotesstriferidden quotescalamity quotesdoor quoteslicentious quotescatered quotesdepravity quotesman quotessqualid quotesmisery quotesstared quotesbrazenly quotesface quotesmorality quotesshanghai quotesresident quotesknew quotesirrelevant quotesmissionaries quotesrail quoteswickedness quotesreformers quotescondemn quotesiniquities quotesreason quotesmend quoteserrant quotesways quotespopular quoteschinese quotesaptly quotesobserved quotesshanghai quotesemperors quotesugly quotesdaughter quotesworry quotesfinding quotessuitors quotesgreat quotescities quotesrome quotesathens quotesst quotespetersburg quotesinstance quotesflatter quotesconceived quotesvirtuous quotesheroic quotespurposes quotesdaughter quotesreveled quotesbastard quotesstatus quoteshalf quotesoriental quoteshalf quotesoccidental quotesland quoteswater quotescolony quoteswholly quotesbelonging quoteschina quotesinhabited quotescitizens quotesnation quotesruled quotesanomaly quotescities quotesstrange quotesfruit quotesforced quotesunion quoteseast quoteswest quotesmongrel quotesprincess quotesgrasping quotespremisethe quotesfoist quotespoisonous quotesdrug quotesborn quoteshumiliation quotesgrew quotesshadow quotescelestial quotesempires quotesdefeat quotesoutsiders quotesopium quoteswar quotesnonetheless quotesdecades quotesasias quotesgreatest quotesmetropolis quotesbrash quotessprawling quotesjuggernaut quotesdominated quotesrest quotescountry quotespower quotessophistication quotesmoney quotes