As Troost relates his gonzo adventure - dodging deadly drivers in Shanghai, eating yak in Tibet, deciphering restaurant menus (offering local favorites such as cattle penis with garlic), and visiting with Chairman Mao (still dead) - he reveals a vast, complex country on the brink of transformation that will soon shape the way we all work, live, and think.
This insightful, hilarious narrative brings China to life as you've never seen it before.
©2008 J. Maarten Troost; (P)2008 Blackstone Audio, Inc.
This book is different in scope than Troost's previous books but is similarly sharp and witty. It is at times harsh and unflattering to China but reveals at least as many shortcomings about the author. I would not depend upon Troost for accurate historical or demographic details but he does provide an entertaining perspective on the chaos of modern China as seen by a (far) outsider. For a more balanced view from a China insider I would recommend "China Road". It also is not very flattering to China at times but is not as "over the top" as Troost.
I learned much from the author's adventures. Many smiles. The narrator is great. There's a lot of W. Bush hating, which will quickly date the book. I've already pretty much forgotten him myself. And how many times do we need to be told that the air is horrible and the Chinese spit all over everything?
I will recommend Audible to anyone who loves multi-tasking. I am able to learn while being active. It takes away my stress, totally!
What the author observed about China and its people is true. I've observed the good, the bad and the ugly behavior first hand but it's true on all the races. I heard in Europe, flatulence is common in public areas; heard and smelled? The author just echoed what most foreigners observed from their dealings with the Chinese people in China or abroad.
I like all kinds of races. I still admire the Chinese people. It's just a different culture.
The book is funny and hilariously narrated.
Annie of Palo Alto, CA
This book brought me right back to my travels in China. The smells, the sights, the chaos. He describes it perfectly, with wit and humor. I haven't read a more accurate portrayal.
The first-person account of a foreigner visiting China and being assaulted with sights, sounds, culture, cities, people, foods, language and customs that were so totally FOREIGN that it blew away all the stereotypes.
It made me laugh a lot as the author got into one awkward situation after another, such as with a Chinese woman who took the American name 'Cinderella' and what the implications might be for him if she thought he was Prince Charming.
Because the author writes in the first person, it has to be him. I don't know how Maarten really sounds but Simon Vance has the perfect inflection to convey a 30-something Dutch-American wandering all over China.
Absolutely. I looked forward to the commute so I could hear more and felt disappointed when I arrived at the office and had to turn it off.
The author uses plenty of profanity, so don't get this if that will bother you. It's done in a cheerful way, but it could offend some people.
I adore this author. Never in a million years would I have thought I'd be a fan of the travel genre. What I love about his books is he his ability to walk the line between irreverence and respect for other ways of life. He is not afraid to state an opinion or ignore PC decorum but also depicts through his story a greater understanding and depth of the culture in which hes immersed. He has a charming way of describing the awkward and often amusing confusion that happens when unfamiliar cultures meet. He also interweaves history without seeming boring.
So needless to say I could not wait to get my hands on this book, or er my ipod. I have studied China in school for many years and have friends who live there or have lived there.
I was disappointed. Maybe it is because he did not live in this area like in his previous books but the book has little continuity and he fails to grasp so much of Chinese culture. I was also horrified by his depiction of Chinese history. He generalizes such a great deal of the history in a biased and inaccurate manner. Whether it is their ancient history or current times, Troost just did not get the Chinese. I don't think he liked China much at all. There is a falseness about his writing that becomes even more obvious when his journey takes him to Tibet, which he obviously did like and relate to, and his writing all at once seems more easy and honest. He is not blatently hostile. He generally tries to be fair but does not seem to gather the empathy that is evident in his earlier books. This is evident in the title, to him China is another planet and he does say this. I don't feel his heart was in this book.
That being said, it is worth a listen. Just don't take his interpretation of history too literally, especially the ancient. The book is not fluid and does not seem as put together or complete as his previous novels. This writing is more what I'd expect from a professional blog than a book. I hope the next one is better.
This is a wonderful travelogue! Mr. Troost writes of many issues in modern China - pollution, the explosion of "capitalism", chinese tourism, censorship - and does so with clever and witty prose. The narration is excellent. I highly recommend this book.
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!
I get the audiobook precisely because I don't want to read. However, that being said, I couldn't imagine this book without Simon Vance's narration. The British accent simply adds to the outrageousness and curltural extremes. This is an adventure book and as Maarten considers raising children in a world of Chinese dominance, we get an up close and unvarnished view of the makers of everything cheap. 1.5 billion Chinese all living together in smog, close quarters and a dizzy array of sub dialetics. As a power to contend with in the world, China is known to be oppressive, impressive and big!
Before starting this adventure, begin with Maarten's book Sex Lives of Cannibals and go on to Getting Stoned with Savages. Come back in the knowledge that whatever is going on in China, we will follow the man lived and drank with cannibals and survived, so how bad can it be there? Really, really bad.
Listening to Simon is just too damn funny. As Maarten, the Netherland born, California based, pragmatic english speaking (with a British accent), he is absolutely brilliant.
The cultural shocks in this audiobook are extreme. The Chinese do things their way and the author revealing China, all the warts, beauty, bigness, and amazing discriptions of scenic vistas totally breath-taking in scope.
Although the author mentions it a number of times, it should be said that China is big. Really big!
Having been to China a few times, I found myself bursting out laughing while driving and listening to this engaging book. I enjoyed this book immensely and found it quite factual. Troost's descriptions of the smog, the spitting, the split pants was both hilarious and true. China is a great country with a great history. It also has some downsides. Troost handled the downsides with wonderful humor. Anyone who has spent any time in china outside of a five star hotel will find very familiar descriptions in this book. If you haven't been to china, it is just as enjoyable. This is a side of China. Not all of china, but certainly one truthful side.
"really enjoyed this book - excellent!"
This book has it all as far as I am concerned! It is interesting, informative, funny and thoughtful - what more could you ask for! It's about the authors travels through modern China and his observations of everyday life for the average Chinese person, from what they eat, work, history, etc - it's not as boring as I have made it sound! I would highly recommend it - I only wish Audible had more of his books on here - I would get them in a flash! Please read it - you will love it - honest!
"China at it’s best"
Brilliantly narrated, this is the best journey through China I have yet to find. From the hilarious to the frightening, it is a fantastic listen.
I really enjoyed this book, very well written and narrated! I have travelled extensively throughout China (including Tibet) and this book give a true and funny account of what it is like! I recommend! 😎
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