We are currently making improvements to the Audible site. In an effort to enhance the accessibility experience for our customers, we have created a page to more easily navigate the new experience, available at the web address www.audible.com/access .
Country Driving Audiobook

Country Driving: A Journey Through China from Farm to Factory

Regular Price:$29.95
  • Membership Details:
    • First book free with 30-day trial
    • $14.95/month thereafter for your choice of 1 new book each month
    • Cancel easily anytime
    • Exchange books you don't like
    • All selected books are yours to keep, even if you cancel
  • - or -

Publisher's Summary

From the best-selling author of Oracle Bones and River Town comes the final book in his award-winning trilogy, on the human side of the economic revolution in China.

In the summer of 2001, Peter Hessler, the longtime Beijing correspondent for The New Yorker, acquired his Chinese driver's license. For the next seven years, he traveled the country, tracking how the automobile and improved roads were transforming China. Hessler writes movingly of the average people - farmers, migrant workers, entrepreneurs - who have reshaped the nation during one of the most critical periods in its modern history.

Country Driving begins with Hessler's 7,000-mile trip across northern China, following the Great Wall, from the East China Sea to the Tibetan plateau. He investigates a historically important rural region being abandoned, as young people migrate to jobs in the southeast.

Next, Hessler spends six years in Sancha, a small farming village in the mountains north of Beijing, which changes dramatically after the local road is paved and the capital's auto boom brings new tourism.

Finally, he turns his attention to urban China, researching development over a period of more than two years in Lishui, a small southeastern city where officials hope that a new government-built expressway will transform a farm region into a major industrial center.

Peter Hessler, whom The Wall Street Journal calls "one of the Western world's most thoughtful writers on modern China", deftly illuminates the vast, shifting landscape of a traditionally rural nation that, having once built walls against foreigners, is now building roads and factory towns that look to the outside world.

©2010 Peter Hessler (P)2010 Audible, Inc.

What the Critics Say

"The best yet from Peter Hessler, whose two earlier books, River Town and Oracle Bones, were exemplary forays into the genre. . . . Told with his characteristic blend of empathy, insight, and self-deprecating humor." (Time)

"[A]n utterly enjoyable guide, with a humane and empathetic eye for the ambitions, the failures, and the comedy of a country in which everybody, it seems, is on the move, and no one is quite sure of the rules." (Amazon.com review)

"Peter Hessler is a fine tour guide for the new China, a writer who is capable of tossing aside the country’s (deplorable) maps and admitting: 'In China, it’s not such a terrible thing to be lost, because nobody else knows exactly where they’re going, either.'....It’s not merely that Mr. Hessler convinces us that the Chinese, being new to driving, are simply awful at it. He makes the additional, and delightful, case that perhaps no other people 'take such joy in driving badly.'" (The New York Times)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.2 (418 )
5 star
 (182)
4 star
 (160)
3 star
 (52)
2 star
 (16)
1 star
 (8)
Overall
4.3 (244 )
5 star
 (122)
4 star
 (87)
3 star
 (26)
2 star
 (8)
1 star
 (1)
Story
4.2 (249 )
5 star
 (111)
4 star
 (101)
3 star
 (26)
2 star
 (9)
1 star
 (2)
Performance
Sort by:
  •  
    Raleigh greensboro, NC, United States 07-11-13
    Raleigh greensboro, NC, United States 07-11-13 Member Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
    281
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    111
    105
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    5
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "people of china > nation of china"

    i recently completed an 18 mo. term at a university
    the large home i lived in housed other doctors and teachers
    while there, i met a young business law professor from china

    as the time came for me to leave, he recommended a book
    he said it was " a truthful introduction " to the people of china
    peter hessler's book more than lives up to that assessment

    hessler's fearless life in china gives him a unique authority
    he drives their roads, eats their food and lives in their villages
    his rugged resilience is rewarded with their kindness and insight

    at this point, even the chinese don't believe in communism
    they will, in time, throw off the corrupt shell of party bureaucracy
    at that point, we'll see the true character of the chinese people

    peter hessler's book is an honest preview to that moment







    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    James 11-13-11
    James 11-13-11 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
    108
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    148
    113
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    9
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Just Got Back From China - This Book Was Right On!"

    I read Country Driving just weeks before going to China recently and I am so glad that I did. The author, Peter Hessler, does an excellent job in describing China, especially "off the beaten path".

    The book helped me to have an "open mind" and "put down some of my own stereotypes" about China, and go there to just enjoy the experience and take it all in.

    Thanks Peter Hessler for writing such a great book and helping me to thoroughly enjoy the great land and people of China!

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Joseph C. Wilson Atlanta, GA USA 03-27-11
    Joseph C. Wilson Atlanta, GA USA 03-27-11 Member Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
    7
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    82
    3
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    2
    Overall
    "Author clearly loves China and you will too"

    Peter Hessler weaves a perfect tale of the aspirations of ordinary Chinese in a sympathetic way. In many ways, China's people have not changed from Pearl Buck's rural peasants of a century ago in "The Good Earth". The author gives a seamless sequel from the dynasties to today's modern China. The book gives countless insights into how the world's most-populated nation operates.

    The reader finds himself drawn to the numerous personal stories of how rural China is changing. While American politicians may attempt to scare their countryman by the rise of China, you find after reading it yourself less fearful of China's ascent on the world stage. The author clearly loves the rural Chinese people and you will too after listening to this excellent book.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    E. Sander Uden, The Netherlands 07-15-17
    E. Sander Uden, The Netherlands 07-15-17
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    7
    4
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "An improvement from Oracle Bones"
    What made the experience of listening to Country Driving the most enjoyable?

    The first section of the book, where Hessler is describing getting his driving license (including hilarious test questions) and driving along the Great Wall is the best part of the book. It contains lots of interesting and funny stories and has the best humour in the book.


    What other book might you compare Country Driving to and why?

    This book is a bit more in the style of Hessler's first book River Town and contains more of the surprise about China than the previous book, Oracle Bones, which I didn't enjoy as much.


    What aspect of Peter Berkrot’s performance would you have changed?

    Although Berkot's the pronounciation of Chinese and the silly voices he sometimes tends to use for dialogue are less annoying than in Oracle Bones it's still not the best performance for a China related book.


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

    It's 16 hours long ... I have other things to do.


    Any additional comments?

    I read River Town when I was in China and liked it so much I immediately purchased Hessler's other two books, Oracle Bones and Country Driving. When I was travelling through China I actually started reading Country Driving but I never got round finishing it. More recently I bought a few audio books and have been listening to the two books in recent weeks.

    I was quite disappointed by Oracle Bones, which I found to be too drawn out, often boring and had Hessler writing to much as a know-it-all. In cCuntry Driving he regained some of his balance and I'm happy to say it's more like River Town than Oracle Bones. The book consists of three parts. The first part deals with Hessler getting his driving license (including samples of the hilarious test questions) and driving along the Great Wall. I consider this the best part of the book with many funny stories and good humour and some information about Chinese regions you don't often come across.
    I had expected the whole book to be like a travelogue, not unlike Rob Gifford's more serious China Road, but this (unfortunately) did not prove to be the case. The second and third part of the book find Hessler grounded in the small village of Sancha, north of Beijing, and a facotry for bra rings in Zhejiang. As such, the title of the book is a bit misleading.

    The second part of the book, about the village on Sancha is my least favourite. The story mostly deals with one family and thereby the book shifts from the wide perspective of a roadtrip in the first part to the microcosm of a Chinese rural family. That's all fine but it does so in too much detail and I found myself getting impatient with the continuous story about a handful of people. I also found Hessler's writing to be walking a thin line between humorous admirating and derision at times.

    The third part, about the Zhejiang factory, is more interesting again. Besides the workings of a factory in all it's facets - including having to deal with workers, government officials and competition - it also gives a glimpse of what China's economic development was like after the turn of the century. This makes for more interesting reading than the life of one rural family as far as I'm concerned.

    All in all this is a step back in the right direction for Hessler after the disappointing Oracle Bones.

    A note on the audio book: like Oracle Bones this audio book is narrated by Peter Berkrot, who I didn't like much in Oracle Bones because of his dreadful pronounciation of Chinese and silly voices whenever he read out dialogue by a Chinese person. Berkrot has improved is pronounciation somewhat for this book and his silly voices are a bit less exreme, though not fully absent in his rendition of Country Driving.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Nicholas Wagner 05-13-17 Member Since 2015
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    54
    4
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "amazing view into China!"

    We got this to listen to while in China for a couple weeks. it was fascinating to hear about some quirk (to our eyes) while seeing first hand. it really made the trip stand out! I highly recommend this book, thanks Mr. Hessler!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mary Burlington, NC, United States 02-23-17
    Mary Burlington, NC, United States 02-23-17
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    6
    5
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Good story"

    The narrator was fantastic! The story was very interesting but got a little long.
    I am glad for my new insights into the Chinese culture.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    cassiuswortmann 08-25-16
    HELPFUL VOTES
    12
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    8
    4
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Enlightening, keen-eyed and humourous"

    The wall - captured the sense of loss that people are feeling in such remote regions as Inner Mongolia.

    The village - I was most engrossed in this part and almost on the edge of my seat as the drama unfolded surrounding health problems of Wei Ziqi's son.

    The factory - a little dry with facts and figures, but the report on the professional arts producing village was enlightening.

    Peter Hessler has an amazingly keen eye for detail and commendable skills of building rapport with his subjects. Several occasions he became more than simply an observer - aided by his high-level of Chinese. He has a gifted, lucid style of writing, that is both highly accessible and humourous.

    As with several other audiobooks on China, the narrator's pronunciation of Chinese was awful, and left me in confusion at several points. Audible should remedy this problem to do this genre justice.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Natalie United States 11-21-15
    Natalie United States 11-21-15
    HELPFUL VOTES
    24
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    75
    7
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    1
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "A wonderful look at what's been happening in China"

    I really enjoyed listening to this book. Though he is not Chinese, Peter Hessler spent several years in China and learned enough of the language to get around on his own and become friends with ordinary Chinese people. He rented a house in a small village north of Beijing close to the Great Wall and got to know one family really well. He learned about their elementary school, the health care system at the time, relations between married couples with children. He described how a husband and wife each pursued paths in business and local political leadership, and how some of them cooperate in traditional agricultural practices. He described how a man he knew mainly as an entrepreneur demonstrated traditional skills when joining other villagers in the fall walnut harvest. He made a special effort to understand what life was like for certain individuals in factory boom towns, and remote Western villages. He rented a car and drove thousands of miles to see what the country was like. I was impressed with how big and varied the country is and how Chinese people follow some of their own laws and rules only partially. The description of what the government tried to do to encourage economic opportunity was not unlike ours in some ways. Some things were changing rapidly when he was there. For example, the number of cars and drivers was increasing. It is an in depth look you can't get by just going there and visiting tourist sites.

    Some reviewers have said the narrator did not pronounce the Chinese language properly. That didn't bother me because I don't speak Mandarin. However I found myself wanting to understand the geographical locations better by researching them on the internet. I bought a hard copy of the book so I could know how the place names are spelled, but there are many different ways to spell the same Chinese word using our script. A couple of times it was hard to tell who was speaking in dialogue, but overall it is a wonderful book and I will read his others.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    UserOne 05-28-15
    UserOne 05-28-15
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    1
    1
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Thoroughly enjoyable look at a growing nation!"

    I couldn't put it down! Truly enjoyed this authors writing and work!

    Great listen even if you don't have an interest in automotive topics.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sunny X. 04-30-15
    Sunny X. 04-30-15
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    3
    1
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Great writing and narrative"

    This is such a well written book with vivid stories through personal experience. The writer covers many aspects of China, from the village to the factory. As a Chinese, I learn a lot from this book about my own country.

    The narrative is great and the narrator has a great voice as well as great pronunciation of Chinese. I really enjoyed this book.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

Report Inappropriate Content

If you find this review inappropriate and think it should be removed from our site, let us know. This report will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.

Cancel

Thank you.

Your report has been received. It will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.