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MANSON, Marsden. The Yellow Peril in Action. A possible chapter in history. Privately published, San Francisco, January 2 1907. Octavo publisher's printed wrapper; 32pp (including two blank leaves at the end), folding map. Au$125

A salutary piece of yellow peril literature, this is the history of the war between the USA and China - with help from Japan - in 1910. I can tell you now it didn't end well for America. Manson was the San Francisco City Engineer during the immediate post earthquake years and some of his predilection for technical detail has crept in here. This understandable desire to reinforce polemic with fact is the mark of the amateur and usually the reason why such tales are forgotten but Manson hasn't tried to disguise his aim with fiction: a fair bit is straightforward xenophobic agitprop.
I wonder how much the cataclysm of the San Francisco earthquake and fire had to do with this but I find no direct mention. It's odd that it went to press so soon after the quake - Manson's preface is dated December 1906 - without a word. Did Manson think the shock of the quake was a good prompt for a battered public to take notice of an even greater threat? Certainly there was a movement to push the Chinese out of central San Francisco as rebuilding began. Was this a misguided bit of timing that guaranteed his book would be ignored?

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