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Dragon Rising: An Inside Look at China Today Hardcover – Bargain Price, October 17, 2006

16 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


"…reads brilliantly… a must for anyone who wants an informed account of what's really going on." —The Times (London)

"The photographic images alone make the book worthwhile." —The Washington Times

From the Trade Paperback edition.

About the Author

Jasper Becker has worked as a foreign correspondent for more than 20 years, 14 of them based in Beijing, and has written four books on the region, including Hungry Ghosts (1996) and The Chinese (2000). Currently working for The Independent, (London), he has also contributed features to National Geographic Magazine, and many other periodicals, from the International Herald Tribune and the Asian Wall Street Journal to The Spectator, The New Republic, and BusinessWeek.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 264 pages
  • Publisher: National Geographic (October 17, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0792261933
  • ASIN: B004JU1SS0
  • Product Dimensions: 7.7 x 0.9 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,824,745 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

31 of 32 people found the following review helpful By Erik Eisel on January 2, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
My father will be traveling to China in May for a 3-week trip, to learn more about this fascinating country. I can think of no better book, to prepare him for his travel to Beijing, Shanghai, and the Yangtze River. So, I will be sending him this book immediately.

Following up his well-researched and detailed 600-page "The Chinese" with "Dragon Rising," Becker has given the "China" shelf in the bookstore a book, which it dearly needed. Instead of reading about the Ming Dynasty or Chairman Mao, business travelers and adventure travelers needed a book, which could be easily read in a day, covering the different regions of China (Beijing, Shanghai, Guangdong, Yunnan Province, etc.), an explanation of Deng's reforms which were responsible for the China economic miracle, and some hard-hitting truth-telling about the human and environmental impact of China's rush to modernism.

On this point, anyone who has read Becker's "The Chinese" will not be surprised by his honest assessment of this human impact on the Chinese. In the chapter on Beijing, he recounts the developments that led to the Tiananmen Square protests; in the Shanghai chapter, he documents the misery of construction workers building this city of the future and the prostitutes who inhabit it; and in the Pearl River Delta, he puts a face to the cheap labor and goods being sent from China to the rest of the world: the young and petite factory girls recruited from the countryside who live their regulated lives in factory dormitories.

Becker's reportage combines a sense of wonderment and awe about China's rise with a Dickensian sensibility. Becker is terrific at distilling confusing political developments into a language the average reader can understand.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Gary Cicero on December 31, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Dragon Rising is a very well written book giving the reader an excellent overview of modern China. Its clear from the very beginning (via the introduction) that the author is not a "China cheerleader" and can ask the difficult questions. I think this book balances all the China hype we see and read about it in the economic media with the reality of the the many pressing economic and social problems that are becoming more acute.

This book is very interesting and easy to read and intersperses anecdotes, with history, and facts, as well as colorful photos -all without getting bogged down in minutiae. Probably the best book available for anyone interested in an overview of modern China. I would recommend it for anyone doing business with China or traveling to China, and interested in an overview of modern Chinese society. Not for academic types or someone interested in Chinese history.
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18 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Loyd E. Eskildson HALL OF FAME on November 8, 2006
Format: Hardcover
China's future impact on world affairs, economies, and raw-material/energy demand is frequently pondered, but with little detail. Becker's "Dragon Rising" brings clear detail and reality to recent accomplishments by China. In addition, the reader also learns interesting tidbits such as China lost Taiwan to Japan in 1895, Tiananmen Square was modeled after Moscow's Red Square, and Deng Xiaoping was the de facto Chinese leader who led China out of Mao's mess and into the modern world (despite being deposed twice, and sentenced to death once for non-conformist actions).

Example of Chinese Urban Renovation: China spent $30 billion from '92 to '99 to rebuild Shanghai's infrastructure. This supported construction of 8,000 high-rises in 15 years (each taller than any building in the area prior to 1980), new steel and car plants, an automated stock exchange, a new airport, and a Maglev train to/from the airport (top speed 269 mph). The bad news is that Shanghai has sunk 8 feet since '21, its population density now exceeds 5,800/square mile (much greater than New York, London, or Paris), many of the new buildings are of poor quality and will require significant repairs in ten years, prices have skyrocketed to as high as $1,250/square foot, many of the buildings are vacant, and the disparity between rich and poor has never been greater.

China has also build underground cities and factories in preparation for nuclear war.

Transitioning the Economy: China had about 300,000 state-owned enterprises (SOEs) with jobs and food originally guaranteed for life; however, with their overheads (about one administrator for every three workers) they were slow-moving, and productivity was poor.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Boston guy on August 24, 2012
Format: Paperback
Jasper Becker has spent decades in China and it shows with the level of detail within this book. I understand that there are many negative qualities about China that need to be unearthed, but it often seems as though the author is skewing the facts to paint the story that he finds most fitting. Here are just some examples of misleading information that I found after doing light research:

page 157: He says,"average incomes in Shenzhen are $5,000 per year... more than 500 times higher than migrant workers". This would mean that migrant workers earn $10 a year. The minimum wage in Gaungdong Province, as mandated but not always enforced by the government, is currently $100-200 a month depending on the city. This minimum wage is around 3 times smaller than the average wage if we use the $5000 value that Becker provides. Migrant workers do often earn less than minimum wage, but from 3x less than average to 500x less than average is impossible. The equivalent in the U.S. would be to pay migrant workers 12 cents an hour if the average wage paid is $20 an hour. That would mean that one can not afford 5 piece nuggets after a full day's work(8 hours). This was also published in 2007 so inflation could not contribute for such a large discrepancy.

page 170: He then goes on to say that in the Village of Fengyang "the average annual income for a peasant is about 1,000 yuan, or just $125". The minimum wage in Anhui Province, which is where Fengyang is located, is $1200-1560 annually as mandated by the government. The minimum annual wage of a province is 10 times greater than the average annual income of one of its villages? Becker might be referring to crop surplus when he's stating an average annual income of $125; this needs to be stated if this is the case.
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