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Chasing China: How I Went to China in Search of a Fortune and Found a Life Hardcover – April 22, 2009


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Skyhorse Publishing; First Edition edition (April 22, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1602396574
  • ISBN-13: 978-1602396579
  • Product Dimensions: 1.4 x 5 x 7.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 2.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,243,816 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In this memoir, entrepreneur Kitto describes his complex relationship with modern China, including the spectacular rise and fall of his magazine publishing business and his love affair with Moganshan, a small mountain village outside of Shanghai where he made his home. While he touches on the Chinese government's seizure of his media company in a few rancorous chapters, the business story takes a back seat to his personal journey and discovery of Moganshan, where he sought refuge from the harried pace and summer heat of Shanghai. During the rapid success of his business and through the ensuing legal and business roadblocks he encounters, Moganshan and the dilapidated villa he leases and renovates become a haven for Kitto, his family and his expat friends. Kitto's descriptive prose, although frequently uneven, sometimes self-indulgently therapeutic and marked by a self-conscious struggle to avoid imperialistic tones, shows clear affection for the country and draws the reader into Chinese culture, politics, history, marriage, business interactions and folklore through the lens of his daily life and relationships with the people of Moganshan. (Apr.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Kitto was a captain in the Welsh guards and a metals trader in London before locating to China in the late 1990s. He published a very successful English-language entertainment and review magazine for seven years, the entire time navigating the labyrinth of Chinese bureaucracy just to stay in business, paying off high-ranking officials and even forming a partnership with the Chinese government to safeguard his success. Just as he was on the brink of achieving full control of his business, the Communist government appropriated his magazine title, his staff, and finally the legal rights to his trademark. He was accused of being a pimp, a pornographer, a spy, and a Muslim separatist terrorist, and he was banned from the publishing industry. Yet his love for China never waned, and as he settled into a more reclusive life in the hills, he gained a deeper appreciation for the land and people of the village of Moganshan outside of Shanghai. His story reveals the frustrations and contradictions that are just part of the impediments to any foreign-run business concerns in China. --David Siegfried

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Steve Koss VINE VOICE on September 2, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Well into the book, CHINA CUCKOO (the published title under which I read this book in its apparently former incarnation) looks to be the mainland China version of Mayle's A YEAR IN PROVENCE. We are given to know that an earlier, more business-centered version of this book has been abandoned, replaced by the story of how the author came to own and occupy a refurbished house in the back country area of Zhejiang Province. As in Mayle's book, the story is one of an outsider learning how to deal with the local bureaucrats and craftspeople. Then, about halfway through, the house completed and now occupied full-time by Mr. Kitto and his family, the story line shifts into a sort of Thoreau-inspired romp through the mountains surrounding Moganshan, full of bamboo-guarding peasants, dogs caught in animal traps, and sightings of wild boars.

Mark Kitto certainly has an interesting story to tell, but it is more likely the one that he abandoned because his publisher did not want to offend the Chinese authorities. Yet, in every respect, it appears that they deserved to be offended, and Mr. Kitto's story could well have served as a cautionary tale to aspiring Western entrepreneurs thinking they can strike it rich in mainland China. Regrettably, only a smattering of the details regarding the demise of the author's budding expat magazine empire are brought forth. Instead, we have A YEAR IN PROVENCE crossed with WALDEN, from which we learn far less about China than we might have.

At an early stage in his book, Mr. Kitto confesses to a lusty relationship with a young lady from Shanghai named Crystal. We learn more details than are perhaps merited, yet suddenly Ms. Shanghai has disappeared from the scene and replaced by a Chinese wife from Guangdong Province who goes by the English name Joanne.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Lemas Mitchell on March 15, 2011
Format: Hardcover
This book was just terrifically overwrought with detail. Did we really need a blow by blow description of the beauty of Moganshan? It seems like his descriptions of the area went on for 50+ pages. At the early stages, his business problems and marriage took up all of 50 pages. It might have been nice from the outset to know: Who was he? How did he get to China? Where did he learn Chinese?

There were some good bits. The author's description of dealing with Chinese style bureaucracy and its whimsical nature. The book was also a marvel of memory.(How did he remember all of that? Did he take notes?)

What I can't believe was after all the things that he saw and the general inconsistency of Chinese bureaucracy/ government/ people that he *still* tried to open up a business there and expected to keep it. I am not sure if he was visionary. Or crazy. Or dense. (Or maybe some percentage of all three.)

The book could have been shortened by about 150-200 pages. It is only after 170 pages that he got into the who/what/where/why/how questions of the business and how it got seized.

For whom was the book written? With a bit more direction and focus, he could have had a good book. Maybe if he had wanted to leave out the business parts (in which case I would not have picked up the book), then he would have had a book on the impressions that one could get from living in some part of China (in which case that would have been one book among many such that were written). Or, he could have talked about the logistical problems with doing business in China (in which case that would also have been a book that had been written a few times before).
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Virgil Adams on July 29, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
As an American entrepreneur in China, I picked up this book hoping to learn about a businessperson's experience creating, growing and, ultimately, losing a business in China. What I got was 300+ pages of agonizing detail on choosing paint colors for a house, page after page of description of hauling furniture and building materials up mountain paths to a vacation home, and other navel-gazing by the author. Insights into the business environment and personalities of the Chinese are very sparse, and descriptions of the author's experience as a businessman in China are little more than footnotes.

As Warren Buffet told the tourguide at the Hearst Mansion, "Don't tell us how he spent his money, tell us how he made it!"

This book is an almost-completely useless guide to anything in China other than the author's summer house.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By 746309 on November 2, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Those who have spent years in China, being abused and cheated by Chinese often keep hoping things will get better(they don't) and they are afraid to tell the truth. Any negativity chances getting deported, relatives persecuted, and the author who speaks openly will never again be granted a visa to China. The Chinese do not care if it is a fact that they have a penchant for dishonesty, trickery, and abuse of foreigners. However, they do care about 'face' - the appearance. Make them lose face and you will suffer. Hence this sanitized book. A second problem is expats to xenophobic countries like China, Japan have a hard time admitting they have made a terrrible mistake, and wasted years of their lives pursuing a mirage. American Missionary Arthur Henderson Smith's "Chinese Characteristics" is free on Google, written when AHS had nothing to lose. What AHS said a hundred years ago is still basically true. A Westerner who has lived and worked in China many years will see this. A tourist will disagree since AHS's book does not match the scenes s/he was shown by their Communist China tour guide
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