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Publisher's Summary

When Communist Party leaders adopted the one-child policy in 1980, they hoped curbing birthrates would help lift China's poorest and increase the country's global stature. But at what cost? Now, as China closes the book on the policy after more than three decades, it faces a population grown too old and too male, with a vastly diminished supply of young workers.

Mei Fong has spent years documenting the policy's repercussions on every sector of Chinese society. In One Child, she explores its true human impact, traveling across China to meet the people who live with its consequences. Their stories reveal a dystopian reality: unauthorized second children ignored by the state, only children supporting aging parents and grandparents on their own, villages teeming with ineligible bachelors, and an ungoverned adoption market stretching across the globe. Fong tackles questions that have major implications for China's future: whether its "Little Emperor" cohort will make for an entitled or risk-averse generation; how China will manage to support itself when one in every four people is over 65 years old; and, above all, how much the one-child policy may end up hindering China's growth.

©2016 Mei Fong (P)2016 Tantor

Critic Reviews

"Finished just before the announcement of the policy's demise, One Child is a touching and captivating anthropological investigation of one of the most invasive laws ever devised." (Kirkus)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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Truth is stranger than fiction, and often sadder

Thoroughly researched and woven with a personal narrative that effectively humanized government policy, I would recommend the book highly, despite the reader who missed the horror and the humor of the writing, pronouncing "underpant's (referring to the ctv bldg) erection" in the the same detached tone as "infanticide". I heard the author interviewed once and would have much preferred her rich voice and obvious intellectual and emotional investment to this cool reading.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Bleak

I appreciate the raw viewpoint of this author. However, she makes China out to be a sad place. I taught English in China. While there indeed is great oppression from the government of China, I can tell you that I saw glimmers of hope among my students and their families. China is not done. There is hope.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Best Book Club Discussion Ever!!

Would you consider the audio edition of One Child to be better than the print version?

I enjoyed the audio version because I didn't have to struggle with the Chinese names. The book has several Chinese expressions which were beautifully spoken by the reader.

What was one of the most memorable moments of One Child?

There were too many to name. I loved the author's own maternal story paralleling the reporting of China's childbearing. The personal interviews were riveting. I knew nothing about the one child policy and was awed by it's ramifications.

Have you listened to any of Janet Song’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

She did a beautiful job telling the story in a factual way, yet not sounding like a reporter. She read with no discernible accent yet pronounced the Chinese names and phrases beautifully.

What’s the most interesting tidbit you’ve picked up from this book?

The one child policy was often horrifically applied and tapped into a mindset already favoring males. The result will leave many of these beloved males without a wife or children.

Any additional comments?

I highly recommend this book, even if you think you have no interest in the policy. You will be amazed at the far-reaching effects. Think of all the people you know who adopted a Chinese daughter and you will never feel the same way again.

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Comprehensive but too emotional

Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

Yes, in the best sections the book is very informative and comprehensive, discussing all of the relevant problem areas caused by the one child policy.<br/><br/>Unfortunately the first two chapters on the 2008 Olympics and Sicuan eathquake are not very relevant to the topics and quote often Mei Fong is too emotional, sentimental and opinionated, at times even sarcastic. I especially found the inclusion of the stories about her own miscarriage, fertility problems and children totally unnecessary. I would have preferred a more factual and objective approach.

What three words best describe Janet Song’s voice?

I didn't like Janet Song's delivery very much. She constantly reads in a very sad sounding delivery, making the often emotional writing even harder to bear. Her pronuciation of certain Chinese words is better than some other narrators but she still makes several mistakes.

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I learned a lot from this book.

What a ripple effect the one child law had on so many things in China.

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  • Mrs.
  • 02-22-16

Insightful research of China's One Child Policy

Where does One Child rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

Unexpected. Interesting research based writing, investigating the sources and impact of what was an inhumane policy - more in terms of its execution (literally) than its ideals. Very different listen so not possible to rank it.

What was one of the most memorable moments of One Child?

Some of the descriptions of people's experiences (men as well as women) are harrowing but overall one has a good sense of a carefully investigated history into the power of the Chinese state over the fertility of its people (women), and its continuing impact today. Not comfortable and very hard to imagine what it must have been like to be a woman subjected to the strictures of this regime. Raises interesting questions about whether this policy to reduce population has actually had the desired outcome, and how a reduced population looks after an ageing one. The spectre of 'designer' babies becomes a reality to the burgeoning wealthy classes of China, while the poor remain disadvantaged.

Did the narration match the pace of the story?

Yes, it was factual and not really a story in the usual sense. Fairly detached reading but not a problem as the facts and accounts were startling and needed no embellishment.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

It is not a long book so it was easy to do so and was surprisingly compelling.

Any additional comments?

I don't think this was what I expected but I found it very interesting and am glad I listened to it. It most certainly gives much to think about.

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  • Vivien
  • 03-08-16

One Child by Mei Fong

This is an excellent explanation of this extraordinary experiment in population control. Mei Fong is able to develop scenarios from so many points of view that show how many and varied the negative ramifications of this policy have been. Many of these examples had never occurred to me before. It is a very thought provoking book.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 10-26-17

interesting

very interesting .an eye opener. I listened to it a few times. the author did so much research.