The Chinese Economic miracle is happening despite, not because of, China's 900 million peasants. They are missing from the portraits of booming Shanghai, or Beijing. Many of China's underclass live under a feudalistic system unchanged since the 15th century.
Wu Chuntao and Chen Guidi undertook a three-year survey of what had happened to the peasants in one of the poorest provinces, Anhui, asking the question: have the peasants been betrayed by the revolution undertaken in their name by Mao and his successors?
The result is a brilliant narrative of life among the poor, a vivid portrait of the petty dictators that run China's villages and counties, and the consequences of their bullying despotism on the people they administer.Told principally through four dramatic narratives, Will the Boat Sink the Water? gives voice to the unheard masses and looks beneath the gloss of the new China to find the truth about its vast population of rural poor.
I travel to China often, and the original Chinese version of this book is incredibly influential there. Even though it's been banned, illegal copies of it are sold all over and practically everyone has read it or at least knows it. Too many books in English on China just tell Americans what they want to hear, and this is a rare chance to hear what people there really think is going wrong. Most American listeners will find that it's not to their taste. . . but that's exactly the point. It's not written for you. By listening to this book, you're eavesdropping on what people in China are saying to each other.
It's also one of the few audiobooks where the reader pronounces Chinese names and words correctly. Usually.
7 of 7 people found this review helpful
I'd have to concur with the other reviewer that if you want to really understand how people in China perceive their situation, this is the best book out there. But be forewarned that although there is some adaptation for an American audience (mostly footnotes that I found disrupt the narrative), it was written for a domestic Chinese audience. If you know little of Chinese history and government, this book will be difficult to follow. Nonetheless, its incredibly rewarding.
6 of 6 people found this review helpful
Corruption and extortion run amok, and as is customary, the poorest people are the most frequent victims. The individual stories in this book are similar enough to make a credible argument, yet each has detail and tragedy of its own. The majority of China's population still live in the countryside right now, and are subject to completely different rules, tax law, social services, and mobility restrictions than folks in cities. There is such a paucity of this kind of material in English right now, yet it is so important. While much of the book has to do with extortion, there are glimpses of other issues (like population policy abuse and repercussions) that appear as well, and point to more questions, more to explore.
I echo reviewer Delano: "by listening to this book, you're eavesdropping on what people in China are saying to each other." This book is essential reading for the informed global citizen.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful
The untold story of China's destitute rural peasant majority. The part of China remains the unacknowledged elephant-in-the-living-room in too many discussions of the Chinese economy, which tend to focus exclusively on the urban industrial sector with which the West trades. This book helps to complete the picture of what is happening in China.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
I was expecting a more broad-based look at rural peasant life in China (cultural practices, traditions, habits, etc.), so was a bit surprised by this very particular set of accounts of corruption and abuse and the stories that went along with that. As a bold account of those incidents, this book is incredible and I was shocked to hear how little has changed from the Maoist years of peasant abuse. The later chapters do a good job of describing a "split China" with rural and urban populations that follow very different rules, taxes, etc.
I recommend this to anyone who wants a close look act some of the abuses at the ground level in rural China and an interesting description of how individuals tried to work through the bureaucracy with varied results.
Note: it's very short and I got through it in about two days. Am eager to know more. Also, the reading out of URL addresses (even wikipedia articles) was a bit annoying...
This story follows the injustices committed against some of the innocent farmers in China.It tracks the corruption from a city called Bengbu to Beijing.There was a surprising amount of savagery and inequality in this rising power.The biggest take away for me was that there are five levels of government and not three like in America,so with such a system and some people with poor education the conditions are ripe for exploitation by the landed gentry.The fact that the book was banned in China really made me want to listen,but it was spectacular.I also realize if the poor in this country ever get organized they will easily overrun the wealthy.There are far more of them.Hence the title the boat is the mass majority may sink the water,which is the controlling politburo.