Bloke who took to audiobooks in order to beguile long hours on the road travelling to photography gigs across his home state. Now addicted!
China is another country - they do things differently there.
I suspect strongly that Simon Vance's narration is all that saves this book from utter unbearability - his soothing, very British intonations smoothing-over and camouflaging a tale that should, in justice, probably be delivered in a nasal, wheedling, north-American whine.
The Chinese, you see, in Troost's eyes, simply cannot do anything right.
His account is in the gonzo comic style, and might almost be compared to Bill Bryson, except that Troost has little interest in the locals' opinions. After all, he has so many of his own to give us.
Make no mistake - this is an entertaining account, and doubtlessly, of course, much of his criticism is justified, particularly of the regime. But it's striking how his cynicism - and, I'll add, his skepticism - switches off the moment he crosses the 'border' into Tibet.
Probably one to digest before traveling there yourself for the first time, on a forewarned is forearmed basis; hell, after all, it's unlikely your own experience would be worse!
This was absolutely one of the best books I've read on China because it really gave an accurate and humorous overview from the author’s perspective.
I've been traveling in and out of China several times over the last couple of years, and the author is right on with a slight exaggeration or two here and there, but overall, this is an excellent read, especially if you ever plan on visiting China!
No B.S. reviews. I'll never soft-pedal bad writing or inept narration.
Another triumph for J. Maarten Troost, and for Simon Vance. An unbeatable combination. This book gives insights into China and Chinese culture that you won't find in any "politically correct" publication. It's funny, entertaining, and disturbing. Absolutely worth a listen.
Troost is masterful. Funny, irreverent, honest, and even at times, deeply moving. Unlike many travel writers, he doesn't just visit an exotic local, he lives it. His storytelling is compelling, and it is hard to turn away once you've begun one of his stories.
Furthermore, the Reader on this book is fantastic. He portrays the author and others extremely well, with the appropriate gravitas and levity, even within the same paragraph.
The visit to the Leaping Tiger Gorge was truly memorable. Intermixed among vivid descriptions of beautiful scenery are laugh out loud moments (the overweight travelling companion's bold confidence and near immediate regret), and deeply troubling observations (the encroaching destruction of such a marvelous place).
I listened to almost the entire book in a day.
I am an English teacher in China and can now read and write some Chinese.I have been to 13 countries on 4 continents.I am an avid audiophile
Narrated by the gifted Simon Vance who brings life to this authors rather caustic view of a rising country.The traffic,the babies pooping in the gutter,and the strange customs and foods of the world's oldest culture are all brought to life as Martin Troost visits many of the best locations in a massive country.Not quite as good as going the personally,but the next best thing.I felt like the author perhaps exaggerated the difficulty of Tiger Leaping Gorge.While it was steep in some places I felt less nervous hiking the trail than I did taking a small van back along the treacherous mountain road beneath the mountain that was being held up precariously in places by wire mesh.One big boulder the hit our van and we could have been floating the Yangtze River.The author talks of his republican friend who was a smoker riding a donkey.I think this part of the book was embellished to appeal to the reader.Many travel writers fictionalize characters to make things more interesting.
Yes, because I found it not only informational but quite humorous
I thought he did a great job
Every part that that described the collapse of the positive aspects the culture and the destruction of so many parts of China's historical sites.
I think Mr. Troost is an amazing story teller. When I first started to listen to the book, I thought it was a novel. I found myself laughing out loud at some of his experiences. I was fortunate to have traveled to Beijing and Guangdong in the mid 1980's and my experience there was much different than that of Mr.Troost. At that time in history, there was no smog or pollution. There were very few vehicles or factories. At the time, I found that the govt was very oppressive and felt sorry for the Chinese people. I still feel sorry for them in many ways but not the ways I felt for them in 1985. It was a different kind of Planet China at that time.
I just can't figure out why he wrote this book. He says something about how he is pondering moving his young family to China because its such an important place, and he goes to check it out. That makes no sense, especially from someone who wanted only to leave civilization in his previous books. I kept thinking, maybe the government paid him to go write a really unflattering book about how messed up China is. The result of reading this book is that I sure don't want to go to China. He didn't have much good to say. The author is funny and the book is pretty listenable. It just had this overlying aura of implausibility. I highly recommend his 2 earlier books. They seem honest and are hilarious. This one...not so much.
I was hoping for a interesting account of his travel in China, but what I got was 10 hours of China bashing. Whether it is true or not, 10 hours of constant description of China's problems is just not fun reading as a travelogue.
China is one of those places I'd rather not visit, but knowing something about it is another thing. Troost's book educates and entertains at the same time. Sure, it is but one person's account, but Troost is has a keen eye and a clever wit. The book is a delight and the narration is superb.