Scott D. Seligman

Dec 28, 2023

Murder in Manchuria

The True Story of a Jewish Virtuoso, Russian Fascists, a French Diplomat, and a Japanese Spy in Occupied China

University of Nebraska Press 2023

On an August night in 1933 Harbin in then-Japanese controlled Manchuria–Semyon Kaspe, French citizen, famed concert musician, and Russian Jew, is abducted after a night out. Suspicion falls on the city’s fervently anti-semitic Russian fascists. Yet despite pressure from the French consulate, the Japanese police slow-walk the investigation—and three months later, Semyon is found dead.

The abduction, murder and trial catch the world’s attention right as Japan is trying to win international support for the puppet state of Manchukuo—and it’s the subject of Scott Seligman’s latest book, Murder in Manchuria: The True Story of a Jewish Virtuoso, Russian Fascists, a French Diplomat, and a Japanese Spy in Occupied China (U Nebraska Press, 2023)

In this interview, Scott and I talk about Harbin, the major players in Semyon’s abduction and murder, and how the investigation and trial became an international sensation.

Scott D. Seligman is a writer and historian. He is the national award-winning author of numerous books, including The Great Kosher Meat War of 1902: Immigrant Housewives and the Riots That Shook New York City (Potomac: 2020), The Third Degree: The Triple Murder that Shook Washington and Changed American Criminal Justice (Potomac: 2018), and The First Chinese American: The Remarkable Life of Wong Chin Foo (Hong Kong University Press: 2013)

You can find more reviews, excerpts, interviews, and essays at The Asian Review of Books, including its review of Murder in Manchuria. Follow on Twitter at @BookReviewsAsia.

Nicholas Gordon is an editor for a global magazine, and a reviewer for the Asian Review of Books. He can be found on Twitter at @nickrigordon.

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Nicholas Gordon

Nicholas Gordon is an associate editor for a global magazine, and a reviewer for the Asian Review of Books. He can be found on Twitter at @nickrigordon.

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