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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Yao story interesting; broader Chineses history is fascinating
I am NOT a huge sports nut...you know the kind who rattles off stats and knows all the players, but I really enjoyed this book. The story of Yao Ming was very interesting especially as it interlaces with China's history. I think it gives a very interesting look into the evolution of Chinese sports, politics and government. It kept me interested and I really looked...
Published on October 13, 2006 by E. WIe

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14 of 28 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Racism at its worst
I don't know much about basketball or Yao Ming or any other players for that matter, but I do know that Asians, regardless of which country he/she comes from, have the ability to play as well as people from other continents if they try hard enough. What I see in Yao Ming is a desire to compete with the best the world, and to have a great career in which you get to have...
Published on January 26, 2006


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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Yao story interesting; broader Chineses history is fascinating, October 13, 2006
I am NOT a huge sports nut...you know the kind who rattles off stats and knows all the players, but I really enjoyed this book. The story of Yao Ming was very interesting especially as it interlaces with China's history. I think it gives a very interesting look into the evolution of Chinese sports, politics and government. It kept me interested and I really looked forward to picking it up again every evening to read.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good Story but......., April 3, 2006
By 
Don from SF "coach41" (San Francisco, CA USA) - See all my reviews
I read the entire book while on a 11 hour flight from the US to China. All in all, the book was good, lots of background info on Yao, his parents and even disgraced hoops star Wang Zhi-Zhi.

However, I'm not sure I buy into the book's theory of China trying to be matchmaker and have Yao's parents to produce tall offspring. Why stop at Yao's parents? They certainly weren't the only tall people in China at the time. As most of us basketball fans know by now, Yao Ming (by himself), cannot carry the Chinese National Basketball team. The team needs more capable players to compete against the European and American teams.

Another minor complaint of the book is the re-cycling of previously written articles about Yao. Perhaps there just isn't a ton of written material about Yao, but I know there were a few sections regarding Yao there were paraphased from other sources. As an avid reader of anything Yao, I wish the author could have been more discreet or rewrote the source material differently. As is, it was just annoying to read something and feel like "dang, I know that came from somewhere before".

I did finish the book by the end of my plane ride. :) All in all, despite the misgivings of the theories and the apparently recycling of some articles, the book was fairly entertaining and you do learn something about Yao, his family and others in the Chinese sports empire.
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5.0 out of 5 stars amazing book about big YAO, January 17, 2012
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very good book to know a broader background of Yao Ming and the cultural difference between US and China. But I doubt some of the information in the book, like the marriage between his parents, cannot believe it's only for the genetic consideration by the government. Anyway, a must read book for Yao!
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4.0 out of 5 stars Skeptical at first, but pleasantly surprised...., January 3, 2012
I was a bit skeptical at first, as my impression (from skimming a quick article about it a few years ago) was that the book was just another "conspiracy theory" book based on loose facts and one author's imagination.

However, when I glanced at it while browsing books last summer in my local public library, I found that it had much more depth and substance than initially expected. After further reading, I discovered that it was very interesting, backed by many credible sources (interviews, articles, etc).

Although one might not agree with the author's suggestions of government manipulation in order to "create" Yao Ming (such as the intentional pairing of his tall, basketball player parents to produce China's next star center), this shouldn't be a reason to dismiss the book altogether.

As a fan of basketball with a strong interest in China, I found it very fascinating to read about the background of Yao's parents (acc. to the author his mother was a "Red Guard"), his childhood, his journey to the NBA, and also the compelling story of Wang ZhiZhi (former PLA soldier/player and China's first ever player to be drafted in the NBA).
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4.0 out of 5 stars From East to West, March 3, 2011
By 
Newton Ooi (Phoenix, Arizona United States) - See all my reviews
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Many professional athletes have an over-sized ego that gets manifested in music videos, movies, shoe commercials, and eventually newspaper headlines. Hence a book about them seems anti-climatic at best. Not so with Yao Ming, or Ming Yao in the Chinese language. Soft-spoken, subtle and self-deprecating, he strives to keep a low profile in utter contrast to his physical presence. Such a person then makes a great book subject, and this book delivers. Part history of Chinese sports, part profile of Yao Ming and other greats of Chinese basketball, and part investigative reporting of the NBA's expansion into China, this book lays out the personal, professional and business dealings of key individuals such as Wang Zhi Zhi, Yao Ming, their respective family members, major figures in China's sports establishment, David Stern, and agents of peripheral players such as Nike, Reebok, and other companies. In doing so, the author shows how China's political and business landscape is actually quite similar to America's, a series of competing groups that sometimes cooperate, but are usually suspicious of each other. The author also contrasts sports training and culture in America with respect to China, and how this translates into success and failure on the court/field. Overall, a very good book and an interesting read.
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12 of 19 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating glimpse of the Middle Kingdom, November 16, 2005
By 
Marc Sopher (North Hampton, NH USA) - See all my reviews
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An excerpt from this book was featured in Sports Illustrated last month, providing an intriguing look into the Chinese political and sports systems. From that article it was made clear that Yao Ming did not simply appear on the international basketball scene; his very existence was the result of meticulous planning by Chinese authorities desperate to raise their status on the world stage.

Through the travails of Yao Ming and his basketball counterpart, Wang Zhizhi, Brook Larmer explores in detail the workings of the Middle Kingdom over the past half century. Larmer examines the political, economic and cultural influences responsible for the emergence of these two superstars. A former Newsweek bureau chief in Hong Kong and Shanghai, Larmer has written a remarkable and entertaining tale that clearly draws on his broad knowledge of the territory.

Operation Yao Ming is not just an absorbing tale of a talented (and tall) Chinese youth's journey to the NBA--it is a complex canvas that exposes many of the harsh realities of life in China.
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10 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful read, tells the big story of modern China, December 1, 2005
In this engaging, enlightening and elegantly written book, Brook Larmer makes use of a single entertaining narrative -- Yao Ming's passage to the NBA -- to unspool a far larger and more complex story, that of China's emergence on the global stage. In vivid and compelling detail, the book explores how Yao was engineered by China's Communist Party mandarins to grow tall and skilled enough to bring glory to the nation. Larmer's mission is as much historical as contemporary. He places Yao's rise in the context of China's own nationalist struggle to transcend its bitter experiences of colonialism, revealing how this basketball player carries far more on his back than his own personal ambitions: Yao is a prominent vessel of China's global aspirations and its mission to transcend past humiliations.

The book is equally effective in examining Yao as a symbol of the outside world's increasing fascination with China and things Chinese, not least the smell of fresh profits in a land with 1.3 billion people. If the NBA is in the crudest sense a vehicle to sell everything from Gatorade to sneakers to television broadcast rights, China beckons as the largest potential market. In a classic tale of globalization, Larmer reveals how Yao sits atop one of the more powerful cross-currents of our time -- China's international aspirations intersecting with foreign business interests intent on penetrating the country.

It is a complicated story freighted with historical and cultural import, and Larmer handles it with sensitivity, grace and balance. Above all, in tracing how this tall kid from Shanghai reached NBA stardom, navigating enormous obstacles, Larmer's book effectively probes the workings of power in China. He examines how the high-stakes struggle for the rights to Yao engaged a constellation of adversaries -- his family, the Communist Party, his Chinese team, the NBA. In so doing, Larmer has offered a valuable case study of the pitfalls of doing business in China, revealing the potential snags for foreigners seeking profit in a land that is increasingly capitalist yet still governed by Communist Party rulers; a land in which painful history -- particularly the Cultural Revolution -- still pervades relationships and commerce in the present day.

Larmer's book will more than satisfy the basketball fan looking to understand a new star upon the scene. Far more important, this finely crafted volume supplies for the lay reader and China specialists alike new insights into the workings of the country and its engagement with the rest of the world.
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6 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Truth of Sport in China, February 20, 2006
By 
K.S. Lee (Guangdong CHINA) - See all my reviews
The people who says this book doesn't understnad China doesn't understand China himself. Have they read the book? I am wondering. I have lived in China for 9 years and can say it is true sadly, in my experience. Even I am Chinese (Hong Kong), I feel it is true that the sport system is cruel in China. The sister of my friend was forced as a ping pang player although she had no interesting in it. Now she has no good job because her education was so little. It is cruel but she has no choice. THat is the truth about sport system in China. It is not like the west where people has choice. I think this book understands China, even as what is happened make some Chinese feel ashamed. But I am Chinese and I can admitting truth. Other people should admtting too and not feeling emmbarrased. I think this book author can feel good on telling the real situation.
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Solid Read, March 18, 2007
I first saw Yao Ming in a Marriott Courtyard lobby during an AAU tour in '98. I was wowed by the secrecy around the guy at the hotel. Since then, I've been waiting for the real story...No fluff. Well, Larmer captures the story of Yao Ming and the rise of basketball in China with his research. Even better, he coorelates the rise of basketball to the development of the Chinese economic boom. Major props...

Now, will critics of Yao please read this book about the environment that surrounded Yao and Shanghai during his development? Will they please realize that Yao would be better suited for a team concept? It's just unfortunate that he started off his NBA career by landing into a thug party in Houston.

Critics have been killing Yao for becoming too soft or for not stepping up to the mantle. Yet, what they don't realize is that Yao is from entirely different culture that professes team not the "I" like the majority of today's NBA superstars. He's a team player and a product of Soviet Training who places the group's interests above personal accolades...Does anyone remember the late '80s version of Arvydas Sabonis?

Larmer touches on all of the subjects surrounding the development of Yao Ming by detailing politics, the reign of Mao, alternative health and herbs, Soviet training methods, Nike, academies, agents, the NBA and sports marketing. Tie this in with 'World is Flat', and you'll see a glimpse of sports in the 21st century.
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good But Hardly Profound Bio of Yao Ming, June 2, 2006
By 
This book is a very readable biography of Yao Ming.

But I had been led to hope that it would inform me about China's future. I'm disappointed at how little it tells me about that subject. It provides some moderately interesting tidbits of information about China's recent history, but the book doesn't attempt to provide the kind of understanding of China that would tell us whether those tidbits are a glimpse of a past that is being abandoned or whether they contain useful indications of China's future.
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