This is a past event. Registration is closed. View other Royal Asiatic Society China in Shanghai events.

Last Boat Out of Shanghai is based on the dramatic, real-life stories of a generation caught up in the mass rush out of Shanghai in the wake of China's 1949 Communist Revolution, with startling parallels to the struggles faced by emigrants today.

Shanghai has historically been China's jewel, its richest, most modern and westernized city. The bustling metropolis was home to sophisticated intellectuals, entrepreneurs, and a thriving middle class when Mao's proletarian revolution emerged victorious from the long civil war. Terrified of the horrors the Communists would wreak upon their lives, citizens of Shanghai who could afford to fled in every direction. Seventy years later, the last generation to fully recall one of the most tumultuous events of the twentieth century have opened their story to Chinese American journalist Helen Zia. From these moving accounts, she weaves the story of four young Shanghai residents who wrestled with the decision to abandon everything for an uncertain life as refugees in Hong Kong, Taiwan and the U.S.

Helen Zia is a journalist and activist for Asian American and LGBTQ rights. In 2000, her first book was published: Asian American Dreams: The Emergence of an American People, a finalist for the prestigious Kiriyama Pacific Rim Book Prize. She also authored the story of Wen Ho Lee in My Country Versus Me, about the Los Alamos scientist who was falsely accused of being a spy for China in the "worst case since the Rosenbergs." She was Executive Editor of Ms. Magazine and a founding board co-chair of the Women's Media Center.

*Dress code for the RAS library is business casual; please no shorts, t-shirts, flip-flops, jeans with holes, etc.

Upcoming book club events:


April 8th: Yukio Mishima (Critical Lives) by Damian Flanagan

May 6th: From the Ruins of Empire: The Intellectuals Who Remade Asia by Pankaj Mishra

June 3rd: Imperial Twilight: The Opium War and the End of China's Last Golden Age by Stephen R. Platt


April 22nd: Red Poppies by Alai

May 20th: I Did Not Kill My Husband by Liu Zhenyun

June 17th: Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata