Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress, by Sijie Dai, presents the story of two young men moved from the city to the Chinese countryside to be re-educated during Mao's Cultural Revolution. The young men discover and read a number of foreign books (forbidden during the revolution), the contents of which captivate their thinking.
BLCS is beautifully written and has an evenly flowing prose. It gives a glimpse into the toils and struggles so many in history have had to endure. For the most part, I found reading it relaxing and enjoyable.
As a whole, though, I cannot give an enthusiastic recommendation. First, the plot wasn't overly gripping; while I finished it in two sittings, there was rarely a spot where it wouldn't have been easy to put it down. While the narrative contained some twists and turns, it was for the most part linear and often predictable. Ultimately, the story's conclusion left me unsatisfied.
I think a word of warning is also in order for those who are sensitive about mature themes. BLCS contains some crudeness and graphic imagery, as well as some explicit sensuality. Additionally, an important component of the plot deals in a matter-of-fact way with a subject that is divisive and many find offensive.
This book is a real yawner. At multiple points I stopped and wondered, "Where's the story?" There was nothing there, unless you think it is big news that the REAL reason McDonald's puts playgrounds at their stores is to
While the history of fast food presented in the book was fairly interesting, the commentary was bland and unconvincing. The author yearns for the time when workers hadn't a care in the world, and everybody lived well; in other words, this book is nothing more than nostalgia for the imaginary. I recommend you skip it.
This is a genuinely significant book for anyone who works in a team environment, whether at work, in sports, in the community, at home, etc. Of all the business books I have read on team building, "Five Dysfunctions" stands at the top of the pack. The strength of this book lies in the fact that it gets at the ROOTS of team failure. Anyone who has been forced to go through corporate "team building" sessions and sing with their fellow co-workers knows that it is an approach that doesn't work! The principles presented in "Five Dysfunctions" are solid and will get results.
A great strength of the book is that it avoids the all-too-frequent tendency of creating tension and then resolving it more quickly than would happen in real life. Reading the story gives you a sense of the effort needed to work through the dysfunctions of a team. The tools are presented to the reader, but without the illusion of a quick fix. Rather, "Five Dysfunctions" gives a simple message that inspires, energizes, and creates a vision of hope for how thing could be in a team.
One "a-ha" experience I had while reading this book is that some of the teams I have been on - teams where we all got along just fine - shared at least some of the five dysfunctions which made them less than effective. While these teams were quite accomplished at the superficial types of team building activities that are so popular, we avoided the core issues that Lencioni discusses in his book.
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