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The Shanghai Free Taxi

Journeys with the Hustlers and Rebels of the New China
Narrated by: Frank Langfitt
Length: 8 hrs and 25 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (34 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

As any traveler knows, some of the best and most honest conversations take place during car rides. So, when a long-time NPR correspondent wanted to learn more about the real China, he started driving a cab - and discovered a country amid seismic political and economic change.

China - America's most important competitor - is at a turning point. With economic growth slowing, Chinese people face inequality and uncertainty as their leaders tighten control at home and project power abroad.

In this adventurous, original book, NPR correspondent Frank Langfitt describes how he created a free taxi service - offering rides in exchange for illuminating conversation - to go beyond the headlines and get to know a wide range of colorful, compelling characters representative of the new China. They include folks like "Beer", a slippery salesman who tries to sell Langfitt a used car; Rocky, a farm boy turned Shanghai lawyer; and Chen, who runs an underground Christian church and moves his family to America in search of a better, freer life.

Blending unforgettable characters, evocative travel writing, and insightful political analysis, The Shanghai Free Taxi is a sharply observed and surprising book that will help listeners make sense of the world's other superpower at this extraordinary moment.

©2019 Frank Langfitt (P)2019 Hachette Audio

Critic Reviews

"The Shanghai Free Taxi presents a unique, kaleidoscopic view of Chinese society. Characters in this book open up, talking freely and truthfully in a way unimaginable elsewhere under the oppressive regime. It is a must read for anyone trying to gain rare and insightful glimpses into that complicated country." (Qiu Xiaolong, author of Shanghai Redemption and nine other Inspector Chen novels)

"Frank Langfitt devised an ingenious way to burrow into everyday Chinese life, and he came back with stories that are humane, candid, fast-paced, and compulsively readable. The Shanghai Free Taxi gives you the marrow of today's China in all its kindnesses and cruelties and wonders and absurdities." (Evan Osnos, author of Age of Ambition: Chasing Fortune, Truth, and Faith in the New China, National Book Award winner)

"Frank Langfitt's stint as a taxi driver collecting tales of modern China has created a rollicking, delightful read. Enchanting." (Mei Fong, author of One Child, and Pulitzer Prize winner)

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Too political

I saw an interview with the author the other day and was intrigued. I bought the book. Immediately he started referring to "Trump's" America and the difficulties it created for his Chinese acquaintances. I want to enjoy the stories without all the political interjections and jabs, Democrat or Republican. Just tell the stories. I guess it is protocol for an NPR reporter though.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Informative & Fascinating

Am excellent window to today’s China. The views and opinions of the Chinese people often are complex. By his conversations and friendship with his riders the author helps to clarify and bring some understanding to what motivates China in today’s world.