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At seven years old, Martin Booth found himself with all of Hong Kong at his feet when his father was posted there in 1952. This is his memoir of that youth, a time when he had access to corners of the colony normally closed to a gweilo, a "pale fellow" like him. From the plink plonk man with his dancing monkey to Nagasaki Jim, and from a drunken child molester to the QueenAt seven years old, Martin Booth found himself with all of Hong Kong at his feet when his father was posted there in 1952. This is his memoir of that youth, a time when he had access to corners of the colony normally closed to a gweilo, a "pale fellow" like him. From the plink plonk man with his dancing monkey to Nagasaki Jim, and from a drunken child molester to the Queen of Kowloon (the crazed tramp who may have been a Romanov), Martin saw it all--but his memoir illustrates a deeper challenge in his warring parents. This is an intimate and powerful memory of a place and time now past....

Title : Golden Boy: Memories of a Hong Kong Childhood
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780312426262
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 352 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Golden Boy: Memories of a Hong Kong Childhood Reviews

  • Ed
    2018-12-13 01:13

    This book grabbed me "big time" and will stay with me "long time". I have lived in Hong Kong for 16+ years and have always wondered what it was really like before WW II and in the immediate post war years before it exploded. How Booth remembered everything is beyond me but he manages to recall names and places with startling accuracy. It is also the story of a boy taking advantage of an opportunity to explore a different culture and growing up quickly in the process. In its way it also portrays a basic conflict when it contrasts the viewpoints of Martin's father, an arrogant, closed minded, bureaucrat and his mother who was open to learning and becoming a part of the Chinese Community. Having been here for so many years, I can almost immediately spot the "ex-pat ghetto inhabitants" as opposed to the folks with an open mind and an adventurous and exploratory spirit. It mostly has to do with basic respect for individuals. Respect for others will get you a long way.Booth's descriptions are wonderful and I can almost feel Hong Kong as it was when he lived here. In some ways it reminds me of my first trips here when I would just walk the streets until I got lost. His writing gave me the same sense I have, that this is a Chinese City and always has been. It's easy to think it is totally Westernized but just as it was never a British city, it is not a Western city. To paraphrase ex-Governor Patten paraphrasing Deng Xiao Peng, "It's a Chinese City with Western characteristics." I wish Booth had lived long enough to write the next chapter in his love affair with Hong Kong. This book ends in 1955 when he leaves for England at age 10 but four years later he returned for good. I feel blessed that he was, at least able to write this book.

  • GoldGato
    2018-11-15 00:22

    Martin Booth was an author of whom I was unfamiliar. A few years ago, on a plane back to the states, he was recommended to me by the gentleman in the next seat, so when I happened upon this volume, it was quickly added to my collection. Lucky me. From the very first page to the very last page, I was an involved reader, thanks to the literary skills of the late Mr. Booth.Hong Kong, in the early 1950s, was not yet one of the economic Asian Tigers. After the end of WWII, it once again was a British-governed colony where colonial civil servants were posted, such as Martin Booth's father. Young Martin, a typical English lad, found himself uplifted to an alien world but one which became both playground and school populated with strange foods and stranger people. Stuck between warring parents, he quickly discovered that his blond hair and pale face make him a lucky boy among the Chinese population. Inquisitive and strong-minded, he roamed the entire area, including the nefarious Walled Kowloon City. Opium fiends. Demented Russian emigres. Hustling Communist refugees. All of these played a part in young Booth's childhood, and thankfully he wrote it all down for the rest of us to read.I think what I liked most about this volume was the ability of the author to take me into a world that no longer exists. Greed and environmental destruction had not yet destroyed the soul of the colony, and it comes through very strongly here. Indeed, Hong Kong had never appealed to me previously, but I longed to be with Booth in his golden childhood of 1952 when it all seemed simpler.I came to realize that the Chinese were a nation of spectators.My only issue with the book was the hatred exhibited by the author toward his own father. I always feel there are two sides to every story, but the father is portrayed as a rigid imperialist, which I'm sure was a child's way of dealing with the strife within his family. His mother, a free spirit, comes across as the heroine, but I didn't feel much respect for her. Her constant put-downs of her civil service husband made me uncomfortable as a reader, and I got the impression she wanted to have her cake-and-eat-it, too. Well, it was Booth's story so he could tell it whichever way he wanted. The fact that he wrote this after being diagnosed with a fatal brain tumor is amazing. I am thankful he did, for it opened a new world to me.Book Season = Autumn (orange light over water)

  • Vivian
    2018-11-17 03:40

    I love this book, but probably because I spent 10 years of my life living in Hong Kong. While in Hong Kong, I lived between the world of white, colonial "expat", and Chinese local. This book is about a rich, white, expat, European, colonial boy that crosses over to the mysterious side of the local (often poor) Chinese. He can cross over and experience the other side of his world because he is a little boy and can make friends with Chinese children and Chinese servants. I loved reading this book because I know all the localities he visited. I also was a teacher at the British school that he attended and I think the children even today still wear the same uniform he wore: brown jacket, white shirt, brown trousers. The girls wore brown gingham dresses. I was also a "cross-over" child in many ways. I was not a local, but I was Chinese. I was born overseas and spoke perfect English. I was not poor, like the poor locals of Hong Kong. I taught alongside colleagues that were white, rich, European colonists in the pre 1997 era of Hong Kong. I was one of the first that system ever hired of teachers that were not UK expats and a sign of the changing times as Hong Kong was returning to China. So, I lived an interesting life living in both worlds. Just like the Golden Boy of this autobiography.

  • Cecily
    2018-11-22 23:30

    Autobiography of an English boy of aged 7 - 9 growing up in Hong Kong in the 50s. Exploring on his own (infamous Kowloon walled city; wild bits of The Peak etc), and also the contrast in the way his parents adapted to the life of expats, and their new "home". His father was a mean-spirited man with chips on his shoulder and a drink problem, but in describing all his mother's little asides to him (Martin) about his father, it actually makes her look vindictive and underhand - probably the opposite of his intention.In my formative years, I was at boarding school (in England), where my best friend was an expat from Hong Kong, and there were many Hong Kong Chinese girls as well. I was captivated by everything I heard about HK, and longed to go. I first went between school and university to stay with my friend and her family, and it exceeded everything I'd hoped for. Part of the appeal of this was learning a little of what her childhood might have been like were she ten years older.

  • Brian Barker
    2018-11-29 00:30

    Superb memoir of growing up in Hong Kong.I lived in Hong Kong for seven years and this very successfully captures the excitement ,noise,smells and thrills of the far east.Great characters leap from the pages and propel you back to the days of "empire"I recall that Martin Booth wrote the book to provide his grandchildren with an understanding of what it was like to grow up in a different era in an exotic location-he succeeded

  • Constance
    2018-11-13 02:19

    A fascinating adventure indeed! This book sheds curious lights to the on-going 'occupy central' demonstrations in HK right now. I was marvelled at martin's dexterity of recounting his childhood happenings. Joyce is such a wonderful individual: loving, compassionate, and righteous... I am intrigued to find out Martin's other masterpieces!

  • Helen
    2018-11-27 23:13

    Very much resonated with me. My family and I spent three years in Hong Kong from January 1956 to December 1959 on both Hong Kong side and Kowloon. I swam at Repulse Bay, Stonecutters, Shek-O and other beaches, visited Tiger Balm gardens, walked Happy Valley cemetery and rode the Peak Tram many times. I was nine years old when my father was posted with the army to Hong Kong and Martin's life was almost an exact copy of my life except perhaps for some of the seedier visits he made and which as a girl I was unable to see. But Martin did not mention the many visits to the shopping alleys on Hong Kong side where my mother, sister and I spent many hours happily purchasing fabric and things like glittery party slippers. He did not mention the food hanging outside shops (frequented by flies and other bugs) and which my mother, sister and I would not eat under any circumstance. So many memories, many forgotten events such as the happy arrival of the comics from Britain in brown surface mail wrappers complete with string pulls, the wooden ramps on and off the Star Ferry which swayed dangerously in the tides and yes, one often saw things in the water that one would rather not see including raw sewage, baby corpses and loads of dead cats and dogs. I even ran the halls of the Peninsula Hotel tracking down celebrities of the day for autographs. Hong Kong in the 50ies was a wonderful place to be but Martin portrayed it as mostly idyllic at least for a boy who was pretty much left to his own resources. Life for a girl was a little more restrictive. Rain flooding down those nullahs (which I played in when the water was a trickle) took the life of a British boy when he fell in and his body washed out miles away into the Bay. A school friend of mine fell out of a Bedford truck on the way home from school when the driver had to slam on the brakes for someone crossing the road carelessly. She died. But the people of Hong Kong were lovely to children and you were often on the receiving end of generosity never experienced in the UK.I am sure that Martin's path and mine could have possibly crossed when he returned to Hong Kong in 1959 but he was three years older than me and when one is only 11/12 and he would have been 14/15, we would not have had a lot in common save for the military background. But I am sure that as adults, had he survived, we would have had a wonderful time chatting about life in Hong Kong. Thank you Martin for re-opening the doors for me.

  • Robin Stevens
    2018-11-24 01:13

    It's hard to know what to expect from a memoir, but I was pleasantly surprised by this. Martin Booth's voice is wonderful, funny and clear, and this is a great retelling of his childhood in Hong Kong in the 1950s that feels a little bit like My Family and Other Animals (but with fewer animals and more dubious content). 12+*Please note: this review is meant as a recommendation only. Please do not use it in any marketing material, online or in print, without asking permission from me first. Thank you!*

  • ACS Librarian
    2018-12-11 02:24

    Hong Kong in the 1950s is a magical place for 9-year-old Martin Booth. His memoir rekindles that magic with wide-eyed wonder. Fresh off the boat from Britain, Martin has an insatiable desire to see and discover everything. The city recognizes and feeds his joy, and reveals its secrets. He befriends a triad gangster and is ushered into the group 19s hideout. He listens to stories of escaped anti-communists from mainland China, wizened monks, and expat sailors on R&R. And he makes a vow never to refuse an offer of food, no matter how strange the local cuisine may be. That doesn't mean he has to enjoy it all. I lived in China for five years, and was very pleased to read that Martin shares my distaste for moon cakes. Booth is especially detailed in his description of city streets, districts and islands. It was fun for me to recollect some of the names and sights, but most of the time I felt lost. East and West get all jumbled up - and Martin frequently turns left as I anticipate a move to the right. I don't remember well enough, however, to seriously question his sense of direction. Gweilo is also the story of a family. Martin and his mother embrace their new home, but his father can 19t seem to embrace much of anything. He 19s a pompous, bitter and defeated man. Defeated in no small part by the sarcastic disdain of his wife. Booth doesn 19t hide the hatred, but we can be thankful he outgrew it, and held tight to the memories and love that sustained him.

  • Bernard
    2018-11-23 06:41

    Gweilo: A Memoir of a Hong Kong Childhood Review Martin Booth's Gweilo is honestly one of the best autobiographies anyone will read. This final book of his will be remembered as his greatest epitaph. Returning to the roots of his childhood, he enraptures us in the marvelous city of Hong Kong. He reminds us of the start of life at the very beginning, filled with adventure, insight, and nostalgia. The story of childhood, adventure, foreignness. Booth's style is simply a masterpiece. This truly brings me back to my years as a child. Wandering the streets, always asking questions about the unknown. The streets of the ever bustling Mong Kok, the encouraging wafts of dai pai dongs, blended together finely with the calming yet everlasting beauty of the Peak. It seems as though you are just above his shoulder, watching him on his path to maturity. His writing, his memories, his spirit, is still alive in this grandly inexplicitly crafted grandeur. I will never forget Mr. Booth and his childhood. Anyone who reads this book will be touched.

  • Alex Kwong
    2018-12-01 03:29

    I happened upon this book when I was on vacation with my family in Hong Kong. My family and I had moved to the United States when I was little, and while I remember much about the city, I did not get a lot of opportunities to learn about its colorful history outside of its TV shows set in the past.It was really wonderful that I had the chance to read this while I was in the city, as I had the opportunity to visit a lot of the locations that were in the book, such as Po Lin Monastery, Victoria Peak, and the many streets and neighborhoods that constitute Hong Kong. The window into the past that this book provides gave me insight into how life was different not that long ago, how life differed from the colonists and natives, and helped create in me a much deeper appreciation and love of my hometown.I would totally recommend this book to anyone who lives or has lived in Hong Kong but does not know much about its past, as well as anyone traveling there but likes to do some light reading before bed.

  • Kathy Chung
    2018-11-19 23:23

    Memorable part page 12"I didn't go through nine months of pregnancy and twelves hours of labour - while you were swanning around in the Mediterranean - to leave the product behind. I had a child - a son - to raise him, foster him, shape him, not foist him off on a gaggle of minor public school masters, half of them as interested in the contents of his underpants as his mind."Memorable part at page 17'Are you related to the Duchess of WIndsor?" I enquired wondorously.'No!' my mother replied tersely. 'She's a tart'.The look on my mother's face precluded any further discussion of the duchess or her pastries.I really found that this book isn a wonderful read,. Written in an easy to understand style. Martin Booth certainly have talent in telling his story. It'sa amazing how an 8 year old boy was allow to roam around so freely back then without the fear of today.

  • Tim Corke
    2018-12-08 03:43

    Booth's memories of growing up in Hong Kong are an evocative description of the Far East and take the reader right in and amongst the backstreets of the British colonial outpost. From an initial posting of his father to serve the Royal Navy, Hong Kong becomes home for Booth and his mother, and gives him a deeper insight into how the world works than any education could ever do.From learning Cantonese with the street vendors of Kowloon, to exploring forbidden opium dens with Triads, Booth's stories are an incredible collection of anecdotes that cannot fail to inspire and excite. It's a memoir and travel book of yesteryear, and in today's risk-adverse, health and safety culture, never would the freedoms afforded to Martin be allowed again.Pick up a copy and soak up every word - this is a truly wonderful read.

  • Ly-ann Low
    2018-12-10 05:32

    I liked this book lots. It's nice to read about places in the city that we've moved to - same but a lite different - through the eyes of a young foreigner. After three years in Hong Kong, while many of the place names are familiar to me, some of them I have never stepped foot on. Makes you think if a young English boy could do it, why can't I? What added to the experience of 're-living' Hong Kong again is the snippets of history that add depth to my knowledge of the city; these I rarely hear from the locals and less the expats, especially as HK modernises and old fables fade away

  • Mrs Mac McKenzie
    2018-12-03 00:33

    Having lived in HK for about 15 years i really enjoyed reading this. Martin Booths experiences as a young boy exploring Hong Kong and its culture in the 1950's is a great read. His mum was open minded about everything and threw herself into the culture, where his Dad remained quite an aloof Colonial. Thankfully Booth's mother encouraged her son to immerse himself into the culture and people. A great read for those who know HK and want to enlarge there understandings of some of the cultural aspects of the place.

  • Karen
    2018-11-13 00:15

    Excellent memoir of the author's childhood in 1950's Hong Kong. The author wrote this while dying from a brain tumor so that his children would know of his wild and crazy upbringing in a place that more than likely no longer exists to the extent the author found it all those years ago now. Being able to wander the streets every day and take in the sights and smells.....the author does a great job transporting you there as well as giving you a great perspective on an excellent carefree childhood in the backstreets of Hong Kong.

  • Missy J
    2018-11-17 22:43

    As a person living in Hong Kong, I really enjoyed this book. I don't think anyone living in colonial, old Hong Kong can recognize the Hong Kong of today, but the places still have the same names and most people still do the same things (celebrating the same festivals, going hiking, going to the beach, dim sum...)I could relate well with Martin's mom, who wants to learn as much about the local culture as possible. I also thought it was very brave of Martin to reveal his parent's marriage problems from the perspective of a child. Overall, a lovely book!

  • James Eckman
    2018-12-04 01:21

    A glimpse of a long passed post-war colonial Hong Kong, of white dominance, poverty and gangs. While there's still some poverty and gangs, Hong Kong is run by Chinese now. My older friends who lived there in this period say that very little of the old remains.A very different and fun read, though I wonder how good Booth's memory for these events was given 50 years passing. A strange childhood indeed.

  • Louisewab
    2018-12-01 06:31

    I loved this book, but I must confess that part of the reason that it resonated with me is that I too grew up in Hong Kong in the 1950's. I wasn't nearly as adventuresome as this boy who was 7 when he arrived in 1952, but it was a wonderful description of the HK that I remember. It's also well written.

  • Tanja
    2018-11-20 00:20

    I absolutely loved it! What an amazing time Martin Booth had as a young boy in Hong Kong - and what an amazing, open-minded mother who allowed him to experience Hong Kong in the way he did. I want to reread this book chapter by chapter and visit each and everyone of the places described in the book. (This book is for high schoolers and adults only.)

  • Kathleen
    2018-12-09 03:27

    It is both linguistically and historically interesting. From the perspective of a gwailo, one can get a taste of how expats, primarily British, lived, in addition to the Chinese emigrants. It is also very intriguing to see how new-comers of two different culture blend in well with one another in a city as small as Hong Kong.

  • Kim
    2018-11-20 04:20

    British novelist and historian, Martin Booth, tells of the 3 years he spent in Hong Kong as a child and of his love for that city. He began the book after he was diagnosed with brain cancer and died shortly after completing it. Fascinating and very readable.

  • Sarah Constantyn
    2018-11-24 06:26

    Loved this book. Really think you need to be familiar with HK to enjoy this book. I lived there between 2002 & 2006 . Wow what a ride. Just beautifully written. My husband and I read it at the same time. Highly recommend xxx

  • Cheryl
    2018-12-08 04:20

    Fun read for someone who grew up in Hong Kong to gain another child's perception at a different period of time. Maybe not the most lit genius work but a lot of fun and a must read for any other Gweilo or Gweimo out there.

  • Morris Berg
    2018-11-15 23:23

    Booth was a real Hong Kong belonger - his knowledge was immense, as he was immersed in the culture since childhood, and it makes his descriptions of the experiences very vivid. This book is a wonderful way of exploring the Hong Kong of the old days.

  • Daryl Stephenson
    2018-11-28 01:23

    ExcellentBrilliant this book evoked memories of my childhood although in a different era I could relate to a lot of Martins experiences and the places he described through out the book.

  • Sarah Baur
    2018-12-10 04:38

    This is one of my favorite books! And while it helps to be familiar with HK to appreciate many of the stories, I think anyone would enjoy it.

  • Melissa
    2018-11-19 04:25

    Wonderful account of a very free childhood in Hong Kong.

  • Michele
    2018-12-14 04:16

    Loved this book. Brought back many happy memories of my all too short time in HK. Great mix of travel and biography with amazing attention to detail. A must read for anyone with a connection to HK!

  • Diane
    2018-11-18 05:31

    A beautiful book; mid-century Hong Kong comes alive through Mr. Booth's words.