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Mon 6/5, 2023, 7:30pm
James M. Zimmerman with Robert A. Kapp
The Dangerous Derailment of the Peking Express: A Pivotal Moment in Chinese History

In May of 1923, a group of justice-motivated bandits deliberately derailed a luxury train called Peking Express and held hundreds of passengers hostage. The event became a pivotal moment in Chinese history, setting the course for China’s civil war and the rise of communist power.

Author James M. Zimmerman shares the gripping true story in The Peking Express, bringing to life key characters including the charismatic bandit leader Sun Mei-yao; first-class passengers like Shanghai publisher and reporter John Benjamin Powell; mysterious Italian lawyer Giuseppe Musso, a confidante of Mussolini and lawyer for the opium trade; and American heiress Lucy Aldrich, sister-in-law of John D. Rockefeller Jr. In his research, Zimmerman identified people with firsthand accounts of the event, even interviewing descendants of those involved.

While the story of the clash inspired several fictionalized Hollywood movies and shows, Zimmerman wants to share the true tale because he believes the inequality and corruption that empowered the bandits over 100 years ago still rings true in modern-day China. The dramatic story of the Peking Express may be in the past, but its significance remains today.

James M. Zimmerman is a Beijing-based lawyer who has lived and worked in China for over 25 years. He is among China’s leading foreign lawyers and represents companies and individuals confronted with the political and legal complexities of doing business in Mainland China. He is the author of the China Law Deskbook, published by the American Bar Association, and is frequently featured as a political commentator on U.S.-China relations in various print and broadcast media around the globe. He is the former four-term Chairman of the American Chamber of Commerce in China. In addition to Beijing, he maintains a home in San Diego, California.

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