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A Million Truths: A Decade in China Paperback


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: M. Evans & Company (November 6, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0871319195
  • ISBN-13: 978-0871319197
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,761,295 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Jakobson, who lived in China from 1987 to 1997, found that the general feeling toward the U.S. has become more critical and antagonistic as many Chinese, awash in resurgent nationalist pride and xenophobia, perceive America as a bully that wants to prevent China from becoming a superpower. That is one arresting observation among many in her often startling report, which won Finland's 1998 National Nonfiction Book Award. As Far Eastern correspondent for a Finnish news magazine, Jakobson, a fluent speaker of Mandarin and the daughter of a Finnish diplomat, mingled freely with Chinese from all walks of life. Among her noteworthy observations: many, if not most, Chinese have second jobs, which they keep secret from their main employer; China's vastly underfunded education system is a shambles; the news media has been placed under strict control since the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre; clear-cut, ever-widening class divisions beset today's China. She's a wonderful writer, and her highly personal narrative is filled with genuine affection for the Chinese people?and with contempt for a despotic regime that consigns hundreds of thousands to forced labor camps, and thousands to prison for voicing political dissent.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

This is one of the best general books about China published in the last decade. Jakobson went to China to teach English in 1987 and became a correspondent there for the leading Finnish news weekly in the 1990s. She draws on her experience to provide good-natured, thoughtful stories that focus on individuals but still paint a big picture; there is an ideal balance of insights into the enduring structures of Chinese family life (she is the godmother of two Chinese children) with analysis from China scholars and academic writing on economic and political change. A dozen well-constructed chapters cover standard topics from economics and political change to women's hard lot to Chinese medicine. By introducing us to individuals, Jakobson achieves complexity without confusion, showing us that there is not one truth but "a million truths." Much is new since Tienanmen Square, but much remains from traditional China and the Maoist period. Recommended for all college and larger general collections.?Charles Hayford, Evanston, IL
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Kathlynn (kattony@open.org) on October 13, 1999
Format: Hardcover
I recently took a trip to China and had difficulty finding a book that would give me insight into the real China and her people. This book provided that insight. During my trip, I found many of the anecdotal accounts Ms Jakobson wrote were validated by my experience. In addition the descriptions of the political situations, recent and past history, cultural differences, beliefs, and lifestyles provided a view of China that I might not have recieved in my short visit. Several of the questions raised by my visit were answered as I continued to read this interesting account of Ms Jakobson's 10 year stay in China. Her discussion of her own experience and understanding of this mystical country is enlivened by quotes and paraphrases of discussions with her Chinese students, friends, neighbors, and the people she met in her travels. For anyone who wants a look at the real people and the real China, beyond the tourist trappings, this is an excellent book!
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 5, 1999
Format: Hardcover
It's a shame the publisher hasn't bothered to provide a short description. The author is a reporter with an excellent grasp of conditions in China in the late 90's. Because of her friendships with a number of Chinese people and because of her understanding of Chinese culture, she is able to present a fresh perspective on conditions in China. This can supplement or even replace books by other reporters like "China Wakes", "Chinese Awakenings," or "Red China Blues". Why isn't it in paperback?
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Elizabeth on May 5, 2002
Format: Paperback
I spent the last 15 months working in and out of Beijing, Shenzen and Hong Kong. During this period I read everything I could and found this book, "A Million Truths", the best single book on modern China. Linda Jakobson is Finnish and is untainted by both the western and eastern xenophobia that each feels towards the other. It is a very remarkable book which highlights China's progression to modernity, including Tiennaman Square and its aftermath, while also exploring and detailing the rich cultural traditions and continued relevance of Han society.
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful By D. Yu on July 6, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Though Ms. Jakobson claims knowledge of Chinese and Chinese culture from her 10-year stint in China, she falls into the trap of stereotyping at many discussions. At moments where she cannot explain particular experiences, she throws up her hands and starts criticizing the Chinese culture. She uses her Chinese friends to substantiate her arguments but admits that many of them do not agree with her, and she explains the disagreements with further stereotyping. For example, she claims that the Chinese, even among the most educated Chinese, do not like it when foreigners criticize their government, and she further explains that in the "Western" countries, journalists readily criticize their governments. However, the distinction here is that the criticism comes from a FOREIGN, not domestic, source. She does not mention, for example, the French animosity toward Americans and American criticisms of their government's feebleness. Another counter-example is the recent re-naming of French fries to Freedom Fries on Capitol Hill as a response to French criticism of the American War in Iraq. Examples I can readily recall without much effort.
Another tool she liked to use was to emphasize the fact that she was not "American." Rather, she claimed she was Finnish and thus unbiased. I particular disliked this use of nationality to substantiate her book, when she was claiming to present as unbiased a view as possible. An unbiased book is evident in the reading of it, not in the author's constant insistance of fairness.
Overall, this book is good for tourists who want to feel comfortable about their experiences by the stereotypical explanations in the book. However, if a deeper understanding of the root causes of these experiences is desired, this book should be avoided.
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