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  • Charlie Chan

  • The Untold Story of the Honorable Detective and His Rendezvous with American History
  • By: Yunte Huang
  • Narrated by: Alfred Gingold
  • Length: 12 hrs and 59 mins
  • 4.0 out of 5 stars (1 rating)

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Summary

Shortlisted for the 2010 National Book Critics Circle Award in Biography and the 2011 Edgar Award for Best Critical/Biographical Book.

Hailed as "irrepressibly spirited and entertaining" (Pico Iyer, Time) and a "fascinating cultural survey" (Paul Devlin, Daily Beast), this provocative first biography of Charlie Chan presents American history in a way that it has never been told before. Yunte Huang ingeniously traces Charlie Chan from his real beginnings as a bullwhip-wielding detective in territorial Hawaii to his reinvention as a literary sleuth and Hollywood film icon. Huang finally resurrects the "honorable detective" from the graveyard of detested postmodern symbols and reclaims him as the embodiment of America’s rich cultural diversity. The result is one of the most critically acclaimed books of the year and a "deeply personal...voyage into racial stereotyping and the humanizing force of storytelling" (Donna Seaman, Los Angeles Times).

©2010 Yunte Huang (P)2013 Audible, Inc.

Critic reviews

"An ingenious and absorbing book.... It will permanently change the way we tell this troubled yet gripping story." (Jonathan Spence)

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Very PC

If you can get past the initial chapters then this is a good book that goes through the history of Hawai & the chinese and the attitudes towards the Chonese in film etc in the USA. The continual emphasis and reinteration if how offensive tge Charlie Chan stereo types ate detracts from the book & I found could be offensive as the author seems to assume that us readers have these same attitudes. Overall though a very interesting book.

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  • henryj
  • 10-07-20

Good history of Charlie Chan with modern views

The story is good with good coverage of the Biggers character, the original Hawaiian detective who was the inspiration and the Chan author. The digressions into the authors life are mostly good. Since the author is Chinese, it is good to get his take on the charges of racism now being leveled at the books and movies. As a moderate Charlie Chan fan, I would recommend it.

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  • MRD
  • 11-11-19

Very thorough review of the subject(s)

At first I thought I might not like the narrator. But after awhile I grew to appreciate his clarity and verbal vigor. Not warm and fuzzy or intellectually nuanced, Gingold delivers in a straightforward robust manner. Ultimately it works well for the subject matter and writing style. Beyond that, the book is a deep dive into cultural stereotypes that goes well beyond Charlie Chan in print and on screen. Comprehensive, authoritative, and proves that not all racial stereotypes are created equal. Biggers actually created Chan in counterpoint to Fu Manchu, and the stereotyping was more a product of Hollywood studios repeatedly casting non-Chinese, non-Asian actors in the Chan role.

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  • Terry Shepherd
  • 01-09-21

Great Book. Mediocre Narrator

What they say about a weak narrator diminishing the quality of the book is exemplified here. I ended up buying the Kindle version. Alexa read it better.

It’s sad because the author does a superlative job putting Charlie Chan’s uneven history in perspective and telling us about his heroic real life personification.