Peter Hessler's a great storyteller and he draws you into his experiences with intelligence, respect, charm and good humor.
He also gave me an understanding and appreciation of the people who made the stuff in my life that came from exactly the sort of places he describes so well. I've gained a whole new perspective about things I always took for granted (bra rings being just one example!)
I didn't expect to enjoy this book so much, but found myself thoroughly absorbed in it and sad when this journey to China ended.
Just like the other two, a book that will take you on a journey through China. Great read! We need more Peter! MORE!
Peter Hessler provides a fascinating window into the experiences, thoughts and motivations of ordinary people in China. He has spent many years in China and speaks fluent Mandarin--so he is able to get to know people and interact in people's lives in a way that goes far beyond what is typically found in "travel" literature.
NYC editor 25 years.
What a wonderful way to experience the culture of Chinese country folk who were catapulted into the modern day. How resourceful they were and so sorry to see these
country people go modern. But they want TVs and useless goods just like the rest of us.
Nicely written and characters interesting. This is a good read and a great introduction to the unsophisticated Chinese people.
Gen-Xer, software engineer, and lifelong avid reader. Soft spots for sci-fi, fantasy, and history, but I'll read anything good.
I admit that I tend to overuse "fascinating" in my book reviews, but this is one case where it's warranted. For anyone interested in modern China, Hessler's account of the seven years he spent in the country between 2001 and 2008 is a pleasure to read, providing a real sense of connection between the past and today. From his account of driving along the Great Wall in a rental car, to his experiences living with a rural Chinese family, to his explorations of the life of a new factory town and its inhabitants, I think it's hard for Americans to get a better street-level overview of a nation in transition. Hessler does a fine job of capturing all the little quirks of daily life that outsiders might miss, and touching on the many differences, large and subtle, between Chinese and Western culture. He writes fairly objectively, but doesn't keep himself (and his sense of humor) out of the narrative. The last third of the book, which covers the life and times of a brassiere ring factory in a boom town, is especially fascinating, as it echoes the story of many parts of the United States circa 1900, but in an entirely 21st century, Chinese way.
I'm glad I picked this one up at an Audible sale. Some reviews have complained about the narrator's pronunciation of Chinese names, but I don't speak the language, so that aspect went straight over my head.
Peter Hessler is a good writer. He is a great outside observer of the Chinese culture. Is both understands the culture and still able to keep an outside opinion. I really enjoy how he is able to take situations of panic or normal situations in China and is able to see the historical and culture significance. For example, when he takes the boy to the hospital he describes the tombs of the emperors he drives by. The reader is very good although he does have some difficulties with the Chinese names. Otherwise I would have given him five stars.
Peter Hessler paints quite a vivid picture of what life in China was like in the last decade in the midst of China's economic boom. He write about his experiences driving west following the Great Wall, as well as his life in a rural village outside of Beijing and his visits to factories in Zhejiang province. The writing is fluent and clear. The book will especially appeal to people who have visited China and may have had similar encounters.
The one thing that could have been improved is the narrator, Peter Berkrot's complete butchering of all the Chinese words in the book. The publishers should have hired someone who at least had studied pinyin and can pronounce Chinese words with some fluency. I was lucky to have bought the actual book, so I could look up the cities and words, because I had no idea what he was saying.
After being driven (but not driving ourselves) in China a year ago, I found this book fascinating. It brought back lots of memories and explained some of the regional differences in driving style and etiquette we observed. The only problem is that audiobooks don't have maps!
I am a fan of Peter Hessler, and have enjoyed reading his books in print in the past. But I have to say that listening to this track has been a very trying experience, so much that I actually quit listening and will buy the book in print. A Chinese speaker should not listen to this. I am not a native speaker, but I live in Asia and speak Chinese, and the renderings of Chinese words are incredibly grating and inaccurate. Further more, they're inconsistent. The narrator does not need to learn Chinese, he simply needs to train a bit in pronouncing words that written in Hanyu Pinyin. The accents are also absurd and really bear no relation to Chinese accents. I don't need oddly accented English to let me know a Chinese person is speaking.
Hessler takes us close up to a wide range of situations he "ran into" during his years in China. While the close up stories are rich in detail, don't expect to fully understand China after listening to the entire book.