Myself a Mandarin

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John Day Company, 1969 - Hong Kong (China) - 250 pages
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User Review  - RicDay - LibraryThing

Coates' recounting of his years as a magistrate dealing with two legal systems and cultures in one city is a wonderful, "must read" and one of the best books written about Hong Kong and its people. Read full review

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Sarah Lopez > Asian Studies Book Review
Myself A Mandarin covers the life of Austin Coates, who was born in London in 1922. In his adulthood, Coates served in the government and at the age of
twenty-six, he was directed by the British government to proceed to Hong Kong. It was early 1949. Unexpectedly appointed as a magistrate in a country district in Hong Kong, Coates found himself in a wilderness. He knew nothing about China and understood not the mindset of the people, how they live, think, or interact. He was so new to the custom and therefore, he persevered as a magistrate. There are sixteen cases written in the book. Each case always teaches or shows the author new lesson. Coates slowly gained insight on the Chinese customs and character in order to apply Chinese laws to solve many of his cases.
As an ESL, it was challenging to read this book. It took me quite sometimes to understand what the author was trying to say. Nonetheless, this is a fascinating book. Readers should keep in mind that each chapter in the book is a brand new case with different ideas and theme that the author wants to portray. However, the overall theme or idea of the book is still one. There are 16 different cases but together, the author wants reader to understand the contrast of the mindset of the Westerners, their way of living, think, or interact from that of the Chinese people.
As you read this book, instead of the author being a magistrate, you will find yourself being as one.


A Mandate Conferred
The Errant Cow
Male Female and One

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