J.O.P. Bland, the Times of London correspondent in Shanghai 100 years ago, published this delightful series of musings on the meaning of life and nature of the Chinaman from the perspective of the absolute confidence of the Anglo-Saxon in the days before the Great War. He promises a record of Idleness, of duck and snipe and leisurely cruises through the backwaters of the Chinese countryside. The book delivers that plus colorful insights into the East-meets-West riddle of the Chinese Empire's last days.
J.O.P. Bland arrived in Shanghai in 1883, the year he turned 20, and joined the Chinese Imperial Maritime Customs under Sir Robert Hart. For his services to the Chinese Government over the next 13 years, he was made a Mandarin of the fourth class, and received the Imperial Order of the Double Dragon. He acted as correspondent for the London Times from 1897 until he left China in 1910. In total, he authored twelve books, including Houseboat Days in China which was his third book. He was once described by New York Times as the best informed Westerner on China in the world. He died in 1945.