In May 1923, when Shanghai publisher and Chicago Tribune reporter John Benjamin Powell bought a first-class ticket for the Peking Express, he pictured an idyllic overnight journey on a brand-new train of unprecedented luxury—exactly what the advertisements promised. Seeing his fellow passengers, including the mysterious Italian lawyer Giuseppe Musso (a confidante of Mussolini and lawyer for the opium trade); American heiress Lucy Aldrich, sister-in-law of John D. Rockefeller, Jr.; and other prominent travelers, he was certain it would be the trip of a lifetime. He was right, but for reasons he could not have guessed. The Peking Express, brilliantly recreated with new and original research, tells the unforgettable true story of a clash that shocked the world—becoming so celebrated that it inspired several Hollywood movies—and set the course for China’s two-decade civil war.

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