MOCA READS: The Third Degree by Scott D. Seligman

Thu, May 17, 2018 @ 6:30pm - 8:00pm

Tickets: $35/person (includes copy of book); $12/adult; $5/student, educator, senior; FREE for MOCA and NCUSCR members. Click here to purchase tickets and pre-order a copy of the book.


This program is co-presented by the National Committee on US-China Relations.


Anyone who has ever seen an episode of Law and Order or almost any crime drama on American television can probably recite a suspect's “Miranda rights” by heart. You know - the right to remain silent, the right to an attorney, etc. But what most people don’t know is that these rights had their roots in the compelling case of a young Chinese man accused of murdering three of his countrymen in Washington, DC in 1919.

The nation's capital had never seen anything quite like it: three foreign diplomats with no known enemies assassinated in the city's tony Kalorama neighborhood, and no obvious motive or leads. The Washington police were baffled. But once they zeroed in on a suspect, young Ziang Sung Wan, a sometime Chinese student living in New York, they held him incommunicado without formal arrest for more than a week until they had browbeaten him into a confession.

Please join Scott D. Seligman for the launch of The Third Degree: The Triple Murder that Shook Washington and Changed American Criminal Justice, part murder mystery, part courtroom drama and part landmark legal case that tells the forgotten story of a young man’s abuse by the police and his arduous, seven-year journey through the legal system that drew in Warren G. Harding, William Howard Taft, Oliver Wendell Holmes, John W. Davis and even J. Edgar Hoover. It culminated in a landmark Supreme Court ruling penned by Justice Louis Brandeis that set the stage for Miranda v. Arizona many years later.

Followed by book signing.

About the Author

Scott D. Seligman is a writer, a historian, a genealogist, a retired corporate executive and a career "China hand." He holds an undergraduate degree in history from Princeton University with high honors in American civilization and a master's degree from Harvard University. Fluent in Mandarin and conversant in Cantonese, he lived in Taiwan, Hong Kong and China for eight years and reads and writes Chinese. He has worked as a legislative assistant in Congress, a businessman in China, and a communications director of a Fortune 50 company.

He is the author of Tong Wars: The Untold Story of Vice, Money and Murder in New York's Chinatown (Viking Books, 2016), The First Chinese American: The Remarkable Life of Wong Chin Foo (Hong Kong University Press, 2013), Three Tough Chinamen (Earnshaw Books, 2012), the best-selling Chinese Business Etiquette (Hachette, 1999) and Dealing With the Chinese (Warner Books, 1989). He is also co-author of the best-selling Cultural Revolution Cookbook (Earnshaw, 2011) and Now You're Talking Mandarin Chinese (Barron's, 2006).

He has published articles in the Washington Post, the Seattle Times, the Asian Wall Street Journal, the China Business Review, Bucknell Magazine, Howard Magazine, the Jewish Daily Forward, China Heritage Quarterly, The Cleaver Quarterly, the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center blog, the New York History blog, the Granite Studio blog and Traces, the Journal of the Indiana Historical Society. He has also created several websites on historical and genealogical topics. He lives in Washington, DC.