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Country Driving Audiobook

Country Driving: A Journey Through China from Farm to Factory

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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 (404 )
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4.3 (237 )
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Performance
Sort by:
  •  
    Gene Bowker 08-02-14
    Gene Bowker 08-02-14

    Gene Bowker

    HELPFUL VOTES
    11
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    Story
    "discover China through the eyes of an insider"
    What made the experience of listening to Country Driving the most enjoyable?

    The tidbits of daily life in a completely different culture. Learning more about what has happened to the author since his first book


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

    Any of Hessler's other books on his China experience


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    I found it gave me a new appreciation for what life in China must be like.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Bruno Houston, TX, United States 12-26-13
    Bruno Houston, TX, United States 12-26-13 Member Since 2013
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Interesting!"
    What did you love best about Country Driving?

    I love the naration, and the short stories found within. This was a wonderful book.


    What about Peter Berkrot’s performance did you like?

    Clear speaking skills, easy to understand, and changed his voice to go along with the characters. Loved the naration.


    Any additional comments?

    I have listened to 3 of Peter Hesslers books so far, and this one is enjoyable as well. Peter makes you learn of how the people of China are, and understand a different culture much better.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jollypenno Perth 04-26-13
    Jollypenno Perth 04-26-13
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    "I'll never look at my bras in the same way again"

    Peter Hessler's a great storyteller and he draws you into his experiences with intelligence, respect, charm and good humor.

    He also gave me an understanding and appreciation of the people who made the stuff in my life that came from exactly the sort of places he describes so well. I've gained a whole new perspective about things I always took for granted (bra rings being just one example!)

    I didn't expect to enjoy this book so much, but found myself thoroughly absorbed in it and sad when this journey to China ended.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Nurture Learners and Able Observers 06-27-12 Member Since 2015
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    "Great book! Need More!"

    Just like the other two, a book that will take you on a journey through China. Great read! We need more Peter! MORE!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Gail Madison, WI, United States 05-13-12
    Gail Madison, WI, United States 05-13-12 Member Since 2010
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    "Outstanding"

    Peter Hessler provides a fascinating window into the experiences, thoughts and motivations of ordinary people in China. He has spent many years in China and speaks fluent Mandarin--so he is able to get to know people and interact in people's lives in a way that goes far beyond what is typically found in "travel" literature.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    L. Brown Emeryville, CA 10-21-11
    L. Brown Emeryville, CA 10-21-11 Member Since 2015

    NYC editor 25 years.

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    "A gem of a book"

    What a wonderful way to experience the culture of Chinese country folk who were catapulted into the modern day. How resourceful they were and so sorry to see these
    country people go modern. But they want TVs and useless goods just like the rest of us.
    Nicely written and characters interesting. This is a good read and a great introduction to the unsophisticated Chinese people.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ryan Somerville, MA, United States 10-15-11
    Ryan Somerville, MA, United States 10-15-11 Member Since 2005

    Gen-Xer, software engineer, and lifelong avid reader. Soft spots for sci-fi, fantasy, and history, but I'll read anything good.

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    "A fascinating journey"

    I admit that I tend to overuse "fascinating" in my book reviews, but this is one case where it's warranted. For anyone interested in modern China, Hessler's account of the seven years he spent in the country between 2001 and 2008 is a pleasure to read, providing a real sense of connection between the past and today. From his account of driving along the Great Wall in a rental car, to his experiences living with a rural Chinese family, to his explorations of the life of a new factory town and its inhabitants, I think it's hard for Americans to get a better street-level overview of a nation in transition. Hessler does a fine job of capturing all the little quirks of daily life that outsiders might miss, and touching on the many differences, large and subtle, between Chinese and Western culture. He writes fairly objectively, but doesn't keep himself (and his sense of humor) out of the narrative. The last third of the book, which covers the life and times of a brassiere ring factory in a boom town, is especially fascinating, as it echoes the story of many parts of the United States circa 1900, but in an entirely 21st century, Chinese way.

    I'm glad I picked this one up at an Audible sale. Some reviews have complained about the narrator's pronunciation of Chinese names, but I don't speak the language, so that aspect went straight over my head.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Januarius Plano, TX 09-07-11
    Januarius Plano, TX 09-07-11 Listener Since 2004
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    "Great Story and Read Well"

    Peter Hessler is a good writer. He is a great outside observer of the Chinese culture. Is both understands the culture and still able to keep an outside opinion. I really enjoy how he is able to take situations of panic or normal situations in China and is able to see the historical and culture significance. For example, when he takes the boy to the hospital he describes the tombs of the emperors he drives by. The reader is very good although he does have some difficulties with the Chinese names. Otherwise I would have given him five stars.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    E. New York, NY, United States 08-03-11
    E. New York, NY, United States 08-03-11 Member Since 2011
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    "The life as a foreigner in China"

    Peter Hessler paints quite a vivid picture of what life in China was like in the last decade in the midst of China's economic boom. He write about his experiences driving west following the Great Wall, as well as his life in a rural village outside of Beijing and his visits to factories in Zhejiang province. The writing is fluent and clear. The book will especially appeal to people who have visited China and may have had similar encounters.

    The one thing that could have been improved is the narrator, Peter Berkrot's complete butchering of all the Chinese words in the book. The publishers should have hired someone who at least had studied pinyin and can pronounce Chinese words with some fluency. I was lucky to have bought the actual book, so I could look up the cities and words, because I had no idea what he was saying.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Gretel Lamont 07-06-11 Listener Since 2010
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    "Never drive in China!"

    After being driven (but not driving ourselves) in China a year ago, I found this book fascinating. It brought back lots of memories and explained some of the regional differences in driving style and etiquette we observed. The only problem is that audiobooks don't have maps!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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