Review: ‘The Peking Express’ Raises Niche Historical Event

Review: 'The Peking Express' Raises Niche Historical Event

"Beijing Express. Bandits Who Stole Trains Shocked the West and Ruined the Republic of China,” James M. Zimmerman (Public Relations)

The little-known episode of the story takes place 100 years after the luxury Beijing Express train was robbed in the middle of the night and hundreds of passengers, including dozens of foreigners, were taken hostage and marched through the Chinese countryside.

James M. Zimmerman's "Beijing Express. The Bandit Who Stole the Train That Stunned the West and Ruined the Republic of China' contains many studies and summarizes them in 1923. the consequences are mostly forgotten. Using images and quotes (some directly from thugs, hostages, and other participants in the so-called Lynching riots), the lawyer uses the strangely compelling voice of a chronicler, interspersing people and scenes like a film.

Based on live broadcasts and news of the time, the whole sound has a bit of an early 20th century radio sound to it, so you can almost hear the transatlantic accent in the lyrics.

The acquisition also provides a unique eccentricity to highlight the various people who play a role in the story; hostage Lucy Aldrich is a plump and deaf spinster who is unfriendly to the thugs, even sometimes leading them. The Russian is a well-travelled and vodka-drinking bandit, he can sing Chinese or Russian folk songs at any moment and cheer up both the hostages and fellow bandits.

These details, tinged with racism, sexism, and ageism for a comprehensive look at the times, become necessary to keep the characters straight and the story interesting, as well as understanding people's motivations.

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And Beijing Express is convenient for entry and exit. While it reads well chronologically, you can also pick out parts of user input and have enough context to not get lost. There is a detailed index, map and even a list of symbols for ease of use.

Zimmerman's challenge is to balance dry geopolitics and tough negotiations with the human experience and emotions that make them important and powerful, mostly, but not entirely, successfully.

Beijing Express highlights the slow moment. But the lingering blows are offset by a wave of emotions that turn into friendship, hate, joy and more as a difficult situation brings many different lives together.

If you like historically accurate retellings of special events, you'll love this. If non-fiction isn't usually your thing, it might not be interesting or entertaining enough to keep you hooked, but if you're willing to take the plunge, you'll find moments of excitement and moments of intriguing intrigue.


Ed's Note: The author of this book has occasionally done legal assignments for AP; several US outlets, including the AP, have engaged him to advise on some of the legal issues facing the media.

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