CM April 12, 
1996. Vol. II, Number 26

image Hong Kong Rising:
The History of a Remarkable Place

Peter Pigott.
Burnstown, ON: General Store Publishing House, 1995. 206pp, paper, $18.95.
ISBN : 1-896182-23-2.

Subject Heading:
Hong Kong-History.

Grades 10 and up / Ages 15 and up.
Review by Irene Gordon.



This book, as its title implies, sets out to give an account of Hong Kong in its rise from an obscure fishing village to an Asian financial centre. . . . Hong Kong owes its existence (and prosperity) to the British need for a secure trading post on the south China coast. It was never intended to be a strategic naval base or a settlement to which British families migrated. For the Chinese, it has always been a port from which to migrate. Both nations saw Hong Kong as a temporary home where fortunes could be made, or passages secured overseas. Yet implausibly, a sense of community has developed and this book explains how this came about.

With the imminent change in its government, Hong Kong is certainly relevant today, so a history of Hong Kong would seem an important addition to any senior high school library. Peter Pigott, author of Hong Kong Rising, seems to have done extensive research, and he has spent time in Hong Kong with the Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade. There might, however, be controversy over some of his pronouncements like:


This program of privatization is the secret of Hong Kong's phenomenal growth.
Since the Second World War, it chose to go against the trend of massive government ownership practised in other countries. . . . The government was heavily involved in the industrial sectors of [other] Asian nations . . . Airlines were nationalized in France, power companies in Canada . . . Only recently has the trend reversed itself, and all these countries have begun to privatize their over-controlled, unprofitable industries, bureaucracies, transportation and communications sectors.

The glossary is quite useful, though it omits an exotic word like "gweilo" while including "junk" and "rickshaw" which readers more than likely will already be familiar with. The photos are excellent. But the book does suffer from several weaknesses. Maps could be more extensive and easier to read, the book lacks an index, and the layout is poor with skimpy and often uneven page margins. While the story of Hong Kong is a fascinating one, the book drags in places. For example, the text mentions each governor at least briefly. Perhaps it would have been better to have listed the governors in an appendix along with relevant biographical data and the main events of their term of office, and to have only written about the more influential governors in the main body of the book.

Recommended with reservations

Irene Gordon is a teacher-librarian who has spent the past thirteen years working in a junior high school in Winnipeg.

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Copyright © 1996 the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.

Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364