All sorts of swindles in the late Ming society, with Christopher Rea and Bruce Rusk


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This week on Sinica, Kaiser chats with Christopher Rea and Bruce Rusk, both professors at the University of British Columbia, about their translation of Book of Swindles: Selections from a Late Ming Collection (骗经 piànjīng), by Zhang Yingyu 张应俞. Anyone who has lived in China in recent decades will understand intuitively why a podcast ostensibly about current affairs in China would want to talk about a 16th-century book. However, for anyone who doubts the relevance for today’s China, we believe it all will become painfully clear as you listen.


Bruce Rusk: The Big Con: The Story of the Confidence Man. Written by David Maurer, a professor of linguistics who spent the 1930s hanging out with a legion of con artists to learn their languages and tricks, the book is one of the most colorful, well researched, and entertaining works of criminology that has ever existed.

Christopher Rea: Slapping the Table in Amazement: A Ming Dynasty Story Collection. Originally written by Ling Mengchu 凌濛初 (1580–1644) and translated by Shuhui Yang and Yunqin Yang, the book is full of fantastic tales that collectively present a broad picture of traditional Chinese society during that period of time.

Kaiser: The Oculus Rift, a virtual reality headset that blew Kaiser away.