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China Road: A Journey into the Future of a Rising Power Paperback – June 3, 2008


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Random House Trade Paperbacks; Reprint edition (June 3, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0812975243
  • ISBN-13: 978-0812975246
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.2 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (168 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #36,215 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

National Public Radio China correspondent Gifford journeyed for six weeks on China's Mother Road, Route 312, from its beginning in Shanghai for nearly 3,000 miles to a tiny town in what used to be known as Turkestan. The route picks up the old Silk Road, which runs through the Gobi Desert to Central Asia to Persia and on to Europe. Along the way, Gifford meets entrepreneurs hoping to cash in on China's growing economy, citizens angry and frustrated with government corruption, older people alarmed at changes in Chinese culture and morality, and young people uncertain and excited about the future. Gifford profiles ordinary Chinese people coping with tumultuous change as development and commerce shrink a vast geography, bringing teeming cities and tiny towns into closer commercial and cultural proximity; the lure of wealth is changing the Chinese character and sense of shared experience, even if it was common poverty. Gifford notes an aggressive sense of competition in the man-eat-man atmosphere of a nation that is likely to be the next global superpower. Vanessa Bush
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Review

Advance praise for China Road

“How I envy Rob Gifford and his journey along China Road. How grateful I am to him for allowing me to share the trip through his vivid writing and his deep knowledge of and great love for China. As vicarious enjoyment goes, this one’s a ten.”
–Ted Koppel, managing editor, Discovery Channel

“Rob Gifford has found the perfect road trip. His years in China have given him a keen eye and a deep understanding of the country’s contradictions; he’s the perfect guide to this magnificent road from Shanghai to the Kazakhstan border.”
–Peter Hassler, author of River Town and Oracle Bones

“My gosh, I loved Rob Gifford’s book. His journey along Route 312 is a great road story–from Hooters in Shanghai to the Iron House of Confucianism. China Road is insightful, funny, analytical, anecdotal, full of humble humor and magnificent discoveries.”
–Scott Simon, host of NPR’s Weekend Edition and author of Pretty Birds

“Here is China end to end, told from its equivalent of Route 66 as Gifford journeys from Shanghai to the distant west, talking to truck drivers, merchants, hermits, and whores. Gifford portrays China with affection and humor, in all its complexity, energy, hopefulness, and risk.”
–Andrew J. Nathan, Class of 1919 Professor of Political Science, Columbia University

“Equal parts Bill Bryson and Jonathan Spence. Gifford is great company and great fun, and China Road is a terrific, highly readable book.”
–Jim Yardley, Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times Beijing correspondent

“A great book, a terrific read. Rob Gifford’s story is as engaging as any travel writing, but it is equally full of historical and philosophical wisdom about the future of the world’s largest country.”
–Joseph S. Nye, Jr., former assistant secretary of defense, Distinguished Service Professor, Harvard University

“After six years in Beijing, NPR’s Rob Gifford has written a wonderfully reflective but also well-informed account of his road trip across China. His knowledge and insight about China’s past and present do a marvelous job in helping the reader understand all the challenges that confront this very dynamic country’s future.”
–Orville Schell, director, the Asia Society’s Center on U.S.-China Relations


From the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

It reads like a novel, fun and humorous and SO WELL WRITTEN.
D. stevens
China Road by Rob Gifford This book covers a brief review of the Chinese history and culture plus the auther's own opinion of the current polical situation.
Woon-Yin Wong
The only point were his personal opinion really distorts his otherwise great analysis is when it comes to the morals and norms of the Chinese society.
Edward van Binsbergen

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

106 of 108 people found the following review helpful By Paul Allaer TOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on August 11, 2007
Format: Hardcover
I have been reading quite a few books on China, as I am fascinated with and intruiged by the country's amazing economic transformation, and the potential consequences elsewhere in the world, including here in the US. (Among the better ones are China Shakes the World by James Kygny as well as The Elephant and the Dragon by Robyn Meredith). If you listen regularly to NPR Morning Edition and All Things Considered, Rob Gifford will be a familiar voice.

In "China Road: A Journey Into the Future of a Rising Power" (344 pages), Gifford, who has had a lifelong fascination with China and speaks Mandarin fluently, takes us on a journey across China on Road 312, the Chinese equivalent of our Route 66. Starting in Shanghai and working his way west, Gifford meets ordinary and not-so-ordinary Chinese and simply lets them do the talking. It makes for compelling reading. Talking to a well-known radio talk-show host in Shanghai, the host remarks that "morality--a sense of what's right and wrong--doesn't matter anymore".

At some point in his journey Gifford runs into a man holding a big sign that reads ANTICORRUPTION JOURNEY ACROSS CHINA. The man tells Gifford that "You see, in the West, people have a moral standard that is inside them. It is built into them. Chinese people do not have that moral standard within them. If there is nothing external stopping them, they just do whatever they want for themselves, regardless of right and wrong".

When Gifford runs into an Indian national, he hopes to have a discussion about how things are evolving in India versus in China, but the man is not interested in having the discussion.
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67 of 71 people found the following review helpful By D. Stuart on May 30, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Following the "silk road" is an adventure in itself, and one covered extremely well in other travel books, but here Rob Gifford is cutting across China with one underlying question: Where is China heading? The answers are a little bit scary. As we travel with Gifford (what a great travel partner he'd make!) we meet many people who show by turn resilience, entrepreneurship but also something a lot more desperate: an element that has been described elsewhere not so much as 'dog eat dog' but 'man eat man'.

The writing here is attractive, and often very entertaining, but the picture that Gifford reports isn't always a pretty one. With the world's biggest economy ballooning as it is, there's still a burgeoning, clambering desperation among the poor to get onto the ladder before the opportunities elude them. In some of the poorer, more remote areas, this fact - one can readily see, is already causing sad social consequences. There's a tone of fascinating regret here: a question about whether the price of progress is always worth it. Well recommended.
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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Kindle Customer on September 7, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Rob Gifford has writtent this book in a remarkably honest and lucid manner. He strikes a balance between the details he describes and the broader issues that relate to those details. He tries to look beyond the narrow focus on China's stunning economic development that many authors take. He makes abundant mention of the signs of the Chinese economic miracle that he sees on his 3000-mile journey across the country. But he has also tried to present the opinions of ordinary Chinese people ("old hundred names") as well as his own analysis of their problems, hopes, and future.

He highlights the severe problem of pollution in Chinese cities. He mentions the ubiquitous sex-trade that employs 10-20 million women. He mentions the severe shortage of marriage-age women in many areas. He mentions the problem of official corruption. And he highlights the severe political repression and colonization of Muslim Uighurs and Buddhist Tibetans by the Han Chinese.

He mentions his talk with a "family planning" doctor and learns that it is her job to go around in the villages and enforce the one-child policy. This means persuading pregnant women who already have a child to undergo abortion. Sometimes she has to abort 8-month old fetuses, sometimes kill them with lethal injection, and, if a baby still manages to be born alive, to kill it after birth.

He contrasts Hui Muslims in Gansu province with Uighur Muslims of Xinjiang. The Hui Muslims are loyal Chinese citizens, who don't like American and British policy and wars in the Muslim countries, and admire Osama bin Laden.
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36 of 40 people found the following review helpful By B. McEwan VINE VOICE on May 31, 2008
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I am very glad that I read China Road before the recent earthquake because the background that the book gave me on Chinese culture and politics has helped me better understand the news coverage of the disaster. This is the mark of a book that is truly worth reading, in that it helps the reader deduce meaning from world events.

The premise and structure of the book are appealing. The author, Rob Gifford, an American journalist, hitchhikes across China on Route 312, China's equivalent of the US's Route 66, and writes about the places he visits and the people he meets. Along the way, he muses about China's history, its current building boom, its social structures and traditions, its problems related to its emergence as a global economy and its likely future as a world power. This makes for fascinating reading and, certainly for me, an entertaining way of getting to know a nation and a people who are increasingly affecting the lives of everyone on Earth.

As soon as I heard about the collapse of school buildings in the poorer provinces of China during last month's earthquake, I realized that many parents would have just lost their only child due to China's one-child policy. This, it seemed to me, would be one of the things more likely to create the kind of anger and dissatisfaction that the government will be unable to buy off by putting more consumer goods into the hands of China's growing middle-class. Sure enough. The news continues to be full of stories about the anger and resentment felt by many lower middle class parents whose children died in poorly constructed schools while the children of the wealthy survived because they attended well-built schools that did not fall during the quake.
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