Mr. China: A Memoir
 
 
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Mr. China: A Memoir [Hardcover]

Tim Clissold
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (69 customer reviews)


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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

A British businessman with a background in accounting and auditing, Clissold joined up with an entrepreneur in the early 1990s and set out to buy shares of Chinese firms and to work to make them more profitable. Within two years, Clissold's venture owned shares in 20 Chinese businesses, with 25,000 employees among them, but the story really centers on Clissold's encounters with the nation's "institutionalized confusion." Firing entrenched middle managers became a protracted process that led to factory riots and employees using company funds to set up competing businesses; the anticorruption bureau demanded cash bribes before opening investigations. Clissold's narrative is somewhat aimless, slipping from one misadventure (taking American fund managers to a condom factory) to the next, and there's a certain amount of too-easy humor derived from the exoticism of Chinese culture (e.g., the inevitable banquet where unusual body parts of rabbit and deer are served). Even in these passages, though, Clissold's fundamental respect for the Chinese culture is unmistakable, and the scenes where he leaves his office and interacts directly with the people can be quite vividly detailed. By the late '90s, millions of dollars poured into the companies yield disastrous results from an investment standpoint (and Clissold himself suffers a heart attack), but the Chinese economy as a whole hums ever more loudly. Crossover appeal of this title may be limited, but business readers are likely to be entertained.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

In the early 1990s, British businessman Clissold--with a passing knowledge of China and of Mandarin--found himself the point man between a group of Wall Street bankers with hundreds of millions to invest and a budding entrepreneur class in China strapped for cash and foreign expertise. This seemingly perfect marriage would become, as one investor put it, "the Vietnam War of American business." By decade's end, hundreds of joint ventures would fail and billions of dollars would be lost. If Clissold was well placed to help create many of these ill-fated partnerships, he's even better positioned to explain, through his own horrific experiences, what went wrong: a labyrinthine legal and political system that Westerners (even with Chinese help) could never decipher, a rickety and hidebound system of factory management in China, an almost-willful lack of respect by Wall Street for Chinese sensibilities, and often-flagrant abuse by Chinese managers of the Western largesse made available to them. A compelling account, related with sly humor and hard-earned wisdom. Alan Moores
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Review

“Lots of Western businessmen have China war stories, but only Tim Clissold has written . . . this funny book.” (Newsweek)

“One of the wittiest, most compelling accounts of anything I’ve read in a long time. A terrific book.” (Tucker Carlson, co-host of CNN's Crossfire)

“A compelling account, related with sly humor and hard-earned wisdom.” (Library Journal)

“Hugely entertaining…Clissold loves China…but he also views it with clarity and no small amount of humor.” (Washington Post)

“Hard to put down... with passionate characters and vivid landscapes. Clissold excels at analyzing a strange business culture....” (Playboy)

“Present at the creation of China’s economic miracle, Clissold’s memoir is an instant classic. Sharply observed, funny as hell. Indispensible.” (Time magazine)

“An adventure tale. Clissold is a wonderful and compassionate narrator (with) a deep respect for the culture, language, and history.” (USA Today)

“One would be hard-pressed to find a serious Western investor in China who isn’t aware of Clissold’s eye-opening account.” (Forbes)

About the Author

After graduating from Cambridge, Tim Clissold set up Arthur Andersen's China Investment Services, learnt Mandarin and then co-founded a private equity group investing in China. He has lived and worked in the country for the last 20 years and since his early misadventures has negotiated deals worth over $1 billion. He lives in Beijing with his wife and children. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
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