His knowledge of the people, culture, and language makes this a rare find. If you like the travel-history genre (like Kaplan's Balkan Ghosts) I think you will like this as well.
The past, the present and the future of the Chinese culture presented without bias and lively along with living conditions, aspirations and dreams of the people of China and China provinces. Perfect
I thoroughly enjoyed listening to this tale of travels across China. How China has developed in the last 25 years is amazing. Gifford interspersed history and folk tales with descriptions of his travels in a manner that was engaging and informative. I didn't want his trip to end. I highly recommend this book.
The author knows what he is talking about. He has deep understanding of China and a sympathetic yet balanced analysis of today's China. The narrator is superb as well. Get this book , you won't be disappointed.
Imagine documenting a multi-month road trip across the USA by car, bus, train and foot. The people you meet, places you have seen, local customs, geography, foods, current conditions and future prognostications. Rob Gifford manages to give me his personal trip across China described in that way.
Pleasurable and well paced voice that manages to easily flow those impossible Chinese language pronunciations.
This book made me feel like I was sitting with a grandparent reviewing pages of their family photo album. Each picture is a place with people, told in the first person and in a most entertaining way. A great well rounded expose of a foreign culture, its people and the land they live in.
Exposure to a side of China I had no idea existed
Light humor, good performance and delivery. Topic and how it was written.
I thought it was the author reading his own book!
Listen to this book! I may do it again!
This is an amazing journey down the old China Road with the well known journalist who does an outstanding job bringing Chinese culture to life. The book is written with great
attention to detail so the listener can easily visualize the scenery and people. I was fascinated as the author befriended people along the road who helped him "get further" in the journey. I must confess I am a bit fascinated by the lifestyle of the international journalist so this may influence my review. I think if you are interested to learn more about the real China this book is for you.
While not riveting, this was still an interesting listen. The narrator projected the reflective nature of the book. It definitely provided some interesting context about China, it's many regions and people. This was an original approach for shedding light about China's past, present and potential future.
Rob Gifford offers a refreshing, up-close perspective on the people, culture, government, and prospective future of present-day China. The narrative is free from the fear-mongering and doomsday predictions that dominate most Western coverage of China, but is also acutely realistic about the challenges and issues China faces. Plus, it's a great off-the-beaten-path travel story that may inspire you to visit the Middle Kingdom for yourself.
Yes - I've read the book and have now listened to it. I'd do it again, because (as someone who lives in China) this is the best book on modern China that I've ever read. It is my first recommendation to anyone wanting to understand China today.
Simon Vance actually pronounces Chinese correctly. It is really horrible that so many great books on China have audiobooks with the most basic pronunciation errors, making it a constant cringe-inducing experience to anyone who knows even the most basic Chinese. The readers of Wild Swans, Factory Girls, and Peter Hessler's books all make these mistakes. It's as if someone read Les Miserables, and pronounced it "LESS MISERABLE-S" and the main villain "JAY-VERT". I'm not asking for the subtle consonants, or tones, or native pronunciation, but just the absence of the most basic errors - things a reader could learn with a ten minute "basic Chinese pronucniation" intro. Heck, just learning the following rules would solve 95% of the problems:
- Pronounce the "x" as an "sh", not a "z".
- Pronounce the "q" as a "ch", not a "k".
- Pronounce the "zh" as a "j", not a "z".
We wouldn't put up with this sort of thing for a minute from narrators of books in European settings. We wouldn't tolerate a reader who read the spanish-double "L" as a standard L and not a "Y". So why are these incompetent readers not screened out?