©2007 Robert Gifford; (P)2007 Blackstone Audio Inc.
I throughly enjoyed this book on China Today. The author doesn't bother trying to explain the political system, he is interested in the common people and their every day lives. His journey into the heart of China, and the people he spoke with, answered many questions I had about the people and the culture of today's China. His own curiosity, his empathy, and his sense of wonder drew me along on the journey. Even the narrator seemed to fit the story perfectly.
I highly recommend this book to anyone who seeks more information about China than can be gleened on TV or magazines.
I have been living in China for a few months. Rob Gifford's book is amazing. It has the feelings and emotions of the current reality of China, and has wonderful connections between the daily life of people and its historical and cultural roots. The narrator is also the best narrator I ever heard on Audible. It makes the audiobook better than reading the book. He gives the mystery feeling which is the atmosphere the author I believe wants to convey. I quote this book often in my blog on China and if you have only one book you want to read about today's China, this is definitely the one!
This "road trip" book was written by an English journalist that was taking one last long look at a country that he has spent years living in and reporting on for NPR before ending his foreign assignment and returning to England. Very interesting insider look at the development of China without forsaking the past of 'old hundred names'. The author (with an excellent narrator) speaks fluent Chinese and intersperses the story of local people with his own personal thoughts of what he sees and how he feels about China, the people who live there and their struggle to not only survive, but thrive.
If you are interested in contemporary China, this book is for you. This is not your usual travelogue. Although Gifford can provide a few good travel stories a la Paul Theroux or some other travel writer (e.g., a fascinating story about attending an Amway meeting in a remote frontier town), his travels are more an opportunity for him to explore the social - cultural - political issues that underpin contemporary China. I found his analyses to be thoughtful, insightful and very interesting. For example, what impact did the humiliating intrusions by the colonial powers starting around the 1850's have on the current Chinese psyche? Or, even though 100's of millions of Chinese have been lifted out of poverty by recent economic development, what does it mean that 100's of millions of people still struggle to eek out a living? Or, what lays ahead for the millions of non-Han minority Chinese living in West and Southwest China who do not want to be a part of the "Chinese Empire?" Well written, well narrated, well worth a listen.
I relived my own China experiences with Rob Gifford's trip, especially the mixture of admiration and frustration that was my, and seemed to be his, reaction to the country. His insights, and well summarized historical background, helped me to understand some of why China is the way it is. The narrator was very good except for not pronouncing Chinese words properly, which drove me crazy.
From spending time in many of these places myself I can say that the book is well-done in its portrait of China, its politics, and its cultural temperament. There are fascinating stories in here and poignant ones. If you have any interest in China you will love this book, and if you are IN China, you should be listening to it.
This is a magnificant book. If you are in business of any sort it's a must read especially if you work on Wall Street. Simon Vance is the best there is at reading a book. He is an added plus to listening to this book verses reading it. One of the best I have read yet.
Naturally, this is not an upbeat story. As far as ten years ago, it was mostly Japan that was featured on cover stories of Economist, Time, Newsweek, Fortune, etc. Though all the stories were not about positive topics, Japan still was the center of attention in Asia.
Over the last decade, things changed a lot. Now you can't turn pages in your newspaper without reading something about China.
I wonder how things will turn out to be for China and how that future will affect us. That is why I chose China Road, and I think the author asks basically the same question in his book. There are quite a number of books on modern China and its future. But this one is one of the books you should get.
not sure i'd go out of my way to recommend this book, but i wouldn't stop someone from reading it either. gifford is clearly quite knowledgeable about china, and the book is filled with interesting anecdotes, cultural highlights, and historical facts and explanations. there seems to be a bit of a tension within gifford on china. he's clearly fascinated with the place, and has a deep respect for it, but he also has a tendency to make sweeping generalizations about the people as a whole that end up making the chinese people sound like a science project. i think this is mainly a result of his perspective, which is something akin to a close family friend. he knows china very, very well, but as an outsider can never truly understand it. having spend an extended amount of time in china, i can understand that. that said, i also appreciate the objective criticisms that he is able to give as an outsider. in the end, this is a good crash course on modern china. it gives both a historical perspective and a ground-level journalistic perspective, and it is far more interesting than reading a text book.
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