Charlie Chan: The Untold Story of the Honorable Detective and His Rendezvous with American History (Paperback)

Charlie Chan: The Untold Story of the Honorable Detective and His Rendezvous with American History By Yunte Huang Cover Image
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Winner of the 2011 Edgar Award for Best Critical/Biographical Book

Shortlisted for the 2010 National Book Critics Circle Award in Biography

Named One of Esquire's 50 Best Biographies of All Time

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

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 story telling” (Donna Seaman, Los Angeles Times).

About the Author

Yunte Huang, a Guggenheim Fellow, has taught at Harvard and the University of California, Santa Barbara, where he is a Distinguished Professor of English. The author of the Edgar Award–winning biography Charlie Chan and Inseparable, both NBCC finalists, Huang speaks frequently about American popular culture.

Praise For…

That rarest of treats: a work of exhaustively researched popular history that reads like a dime-store romance.
— Pico Iyer - Time

A great delight of Huang’s quirky, smart, and entertaining book is his sleuthing out the real story behind Charlie Chan.…Huang’s history is bracing and expansive.
— Jill Lepore - The New Yorker

You don’t need to be a fan of Charlie’s to enjoy Huang’s narrative, maybe because he’s told so many stories here, all of them intriguing.
— Malcolm Jones - Newsweek

An astute and engaging cultural history. Huang’s deeper point is indisputable. Charlie Chan is an entirely American creation and an entirely American story. To know him is to know ourselves.
— Richard Bernstein - New York Review of Books

An involving, groundbreaking and far-reaching inquiry.…[A] scintillating, provocative work of discovery, a voyage into racial stereotyping and the humanizing force of storytelling…deeply personal.
— Donna Seaman - Los Angeles Times

Huang gives a full account of a life that was in many ways more interesting than the fictional version.…The most interesting story in Charlie Chan is Mr. Huang’s own.
— Charles McGrath - New York Times

A heady mixture of scholarship, essay and memoir.…As wide-ranging as it is enthralling.…A terrifically enjoyable and informative book, one that should appeal to both students of racial history and to fans of one of cinema’s greatest detectives.
— Michael Dirda - Washington Post

A loving look at a figure not loved by all.
— William Wong - San Francisco Chronicle

A kind of quadruple biography of the characters who inspired, created, and popularized the fictional Chinese detective.…Huang’s enthusiasm for his characters lends the book a sense of exploratory excitement.
— Benjamin Moser - Harper’s

[Charlie Chan] is an astute blend between biography and cultural criticism as Huang analyzes how Chan served as a crucial counterpoint to stereotypical Chinese villains in early Hollywood.

— Adam Morgan - Esquire

Product Details
ISBN: 9780393340396
ISBN-10: 0393340392
Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company
Publication Date: August 15th, 2011
Pages: 384
Language: English