Summer 2023 Book Club

Come Read With Us This Summer!

Center for Asia Pacific Studies Summer Book Club

Join a community of readers interested in the Asia Pacific this Summer!

  • We’ll provide the online link, moderator and the community of fellow readers interested in learning more about the Asia Pacific region–all you need to bring is the book!
  • This Summer, we’ve selected two popular titles: The Peking Express and Animal Care in Japanese Tradition: A Short History
  • Join us for either or both book club meetings; be sure to reserve your spot today (registration links below).

Animal Care in Japanese Tradition: A Short History by W. Puck Brecher

  • Thursday, June 15th, 5-6 PM – Online via Zoom
  • This event is free and open to the USF community and wider public.
  • Brecher, W. Puck. Animal Care in Japanese Tradition: A Short History. Association for Asian Studies, 2021. 
  • This book is available in e-book and print formats. USF’s Gleeson Library has the book available as an e-book. You can find it here.
  • Moderator: James Stone Lunde, PhD, Kiriyama Fellow, Center for Asia Pacific Studies

Register Here

About the Book: 

“This volume provides a historical overview of Japan’s relationship with animals from ancient times to the 1950s. Its analysis serves as a lens through which to scrutinize Japanese tradition and interrogate ahistorical claims about Japan’s culturally endemic empathy for the natural world. Departing from existing scholarship on the subject, the book also connects Japan’s much maligned record of animal exploitation with its strong adherence to contextual, needs-based moral memory.


What reviewers have to say about Animal Care in Japanese Tradition: A Short History:

  • “Richly detailed yet accessible and concise, this compelling overview of animal care in Japan covers a surprising amount of historical ground while offering fresh and nuanced insights on this fraught topic. Brecher dispels persistent idealistic misconceptions about historical human-animal relationships in Japan as he traces how wildlife and domestic animals were treated and cared for in the early modern through modern periods. This readable and engaging study is a must-read for scholars and students of Japanese history and animal studies.” — BARBARA R. AMBROS, Professor of Religious Studies, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and author of Bones of Contention: Animals and Religion in Contemporary Japan
  • “A finely wrought, carefully researched volume. An excellent introduction to the history of Japanese engagements with other animals.” — IAN JARED MILLER, Professor and Director of Undergraduate Studies, Department of History, Harvard University and author of The Nature of the Beasts: Empire and Exhibition at the Tokyo Imperial Zoo

The Peking Express by James M. Zimmerman

  • Thursday, August 3rd, 5-6 PM – Online via Zoom
  • This event is free and open to the USF community and wider public.
  • Zimmerman, James M. The Peking Express. PublicAffairs, 2023.
  • This book is available in e-book and print formats. 
  • Moderator: Melissa Dale, PhD, Executive Director and Associate Professor, Center for Asia Pacific Studies

Register Here

About the Book: 

“The thrilling true story of train-robbing revolutionaries and passengers who got more than they paid for in this Murder on the Orient Express–style adventure, set in China’s republican era.

In May 1923, when Shanghai publisher and reporter John Benjamin Powell bought a first-class ticket for the Peking Express, he pictured an idyllic overnight journey on a brand-new train of unprecedented luxury—exactly what the advertisements promised. Seeing his fellow passengers, including mysterious Italian lawyer Giuseppe Musso, a confidante of Mussolini and lawyer for the opium trade, and American heiress Lucy Aldrich, sister-in-law of John D. Rockefeller Jr., he knew it would be an unforgettable trip.

Charismatic bandit leader and populist rabble rouser Sun Mei-yao had also taken notice of the new train from Shanghai to Peking. On the night of Powell’s trip of a lifetime, Sun launched his plan to make a brazen political statement: he and a thousand fellow bandits descended on the train, capturing dozens of hostages.

Aided by local proxy authorities, the humiliated Peking government soon furiously gave chase. At the bandits’ mountain stronghold, a five-week siege began.


What reviewers have to say about The Peking Express:

  • “Social bandits are, rather, peasant heroes of popular resistance… are known all over the world, from the early “Haiduks” of the Balkans to Robin Hood, Pancho Villa and Sun Mei-yao, the leader of the horde which attacked the Peking Express one night in 1923, the subject of James M. Zimmerman’s excellent new book.”  — The New York Times
  • “It’s an extraordinary story, tingling with memorable characters. Zimmerman, a lawyer and four-time chairman of the American Chamber of Commerce in China, who has lived in Beijing for 25 years, tells it with meticulous deftness.” —South China Morning Post

We hope to see you at one or both of our book club meetings. We look forward to discussing these fascinating new books with you!