Shanghai was a killer. Shanghai was deadly. The terms may sound brutal, but there is no way around the stark reality of a high urban mortality in the late imperial and Republican period. This was not about the city being a murderous place. Even in the worst of times, murders represented a very small percentage of all crimes committed in Shanghai. This was not because of civil or military violence, even if a great number of lives were sacrificed in the main episodes of war in the mid-nineteenth century and again in 1932 and 1937, then with the final coda of 1949. This was about everyday life and death. The city lived off the blood of the migrants who came wave after wave to seek a job, perhaps with a dream of making a fortune. Scythe cut short their lives and hopes....
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