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Postcards from Tomorrow Square: Reports from China [Kindle Edition]

James Fallows
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $15.00
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Sold by: Random House LLC

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Book Description

“Americans need not be hostile toward China's rise, but they should be wary about its eventual effects. The United States is the only nation with the scale and power to try to set the terms of its interaction with China rather than just succumb. So starting now, Americans need to consider the economic, environmental, political, and social goals they care about defending as Chinese influence grows.”
—from “China Makes, the World Takes”

Since December 2006, The Atlantic Magazine's James Fallows has been writing some of the most discerning accounts of the economic and political transformation occurring in China. The ten essays collected here cover a wide-range of topics: from visionary tycoons and TV-battling entrepreneurs, to environmental pollution and how China subsidizes our economy. Fallows expertly and lucidly explains the economic, political, social, and cultural forces at work turning China into a world superpower at breakneck speed. This eye-opening and cautionary account is essential reading for all concerned not only with China's but America's future role in the world.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Fallows (Blind into Baghdad) offers a candid outsiders take on contemporary China in this entertaining and richly illustrated investigation of what distinguishes China from other Asian nations and what causes the dissonance between how China sees itself and how it is viewed by the rest of the world, particularly the U.S. The authors range is admirably broad—he takes on Chinese reality television, school systems, incisive economic analysis—and uncovers a raft of surprising similarities between the East and West. Fallows compares Shenzhen—the manufacturing and migration capital of southern China—to New York, where once youve left the airport and stashed your suitcase, its difficult to tell if youre a tourist or a native. In the gambling mecca of Macau (whose revenues recently exceeded those of Las Vegas), the author finds strains of Atlantic City. What Fallows lacks in expertise, he makes up for in a truly global vision and a magicians chest of social, economic and political insight. (Jan.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Fallows, national correspondent for the Atlantic Monthly, lived in Asia for a period in the 1980s, visiting China occasionally. Beginning in the summer of 2006, he and his wife moved there, and he was able to witness firsthand the changes that brought China from a nation of drabness and conformity to an emerging economy and international financial power player. He was there as China prepared for the Olympics, facing international scrutiny of everything from its repressive politics to its polluted environment. He was also there as the nation coped with a devastating earthquake in Sichuan Province. In this series of articles, Fallows reports on interesting trends and personalities in China—ambitious entrepreneurs and the rise in popularity of reality shows on state-run television. Despite the Western view of a powerful, single-minded China, Fallows presents a portrait of a huge and complex nation with such a vast range of ages and regional, geographic, and cultural differences that it defies simple definition. --Vanessa Bush

Product Details

  • File Size: 388 KB
  • Print Length: 290 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0307456242
  • Publisher: Vintage (January 6, 2009)
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B001NLL13U
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #281,515 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
42 of 45 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Practical and perceptive January 11, 2009
By Phil28
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
James Fallows does a masterful job of explaining the China that we rarely see on the evening news or read about in the daily newspaper. He provides insight into what things are really like in practical terms and with a human dimension. As a journalist and author in residence in China, he tells us why China is so important and tackles some interesting issues, everything from censorship to manufacturing. He's objective in both his praise and criticism, and, like his other books, it's hard to put down. As a person that develops products in China, I've never read a better explanation of how things work. One of the best books I've read on China in a long time.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another Excellent Book by Mr. Fallows May 14, 2009
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Continuing his tradition of excellence - in both reporting and writing - Mr. Fallows' collection of essays on China is well put together on a variety of topics that will give the reader a snapshot of China in the build-up to the Beijing Olympics including coverage of the Wenchuan earthquake in Sichuan province.

What separates Mr. Fallows work from so many other essayists on China (many of them excellent as well) is his detailed and insightful reporting providing context for his observations. If you are traveling to China this book will help prepare you for the China of the 21st century - especially if you've never been or if has been a long time since you have visited China.

This book belongs on your China shelf besides other classics such River Town, The Last Days of Old Beijing, Mr. China and The Search for Modern China.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Original, Accurate Voice on Modern China May 2, 2009
Living in both Shanghai and Beijing from 2006 up until the present (2009), James Fallows of The Atlantic Monthly has an amazing understanding of modern China. He brings a unique perspective to his China reporting, having also lived in Japan for an extended period of time. Fallows' comparisons between the situations in China, Japan and the U.S. account for some of his most original material.

This slim volume is a quick read but packs a tremendous punch, accurately describing the good, the bad and the ugly in China. Fallows is understandably impressed by China and the amazing amount of progress made over the past 20 years, including bringing millions out of poverty, and in areas where China often is criticized such as the environment. But he also accurately describes the many problems this growing superpower faces; from poverty, to Internet censorship, pollution to creativity.

His views on the China / U.S. currency issue and the effects are very clear and understandable. Perhaps his most moving chapters are towards the end of the book, regarding efforts to modernize China's impoverished western regions, and the creation of a more charitable culture in China following the May 12, 2008 Wenchuan earthquake; Fallows argues persuasively that this was a more significant event for China than the much publicized success of the Beijing Olympics. The last chapter is also remarkable about a range of topics, including China's great diversity, strength and openness, while still having a global perception problem and very limited understanding of how the world views it.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars on target August 1, 2009
Following a month's stay in Beijing, I've been reading several books about China. I enjoyed this one the most for many reasons: 1) Fallows rings true with my limited experience. He caught many of the same fine scale details I noticed (e.g. how the Chinese media reacts to a variety of things, 2) he displays a keen grasp of some of the basic technological issues facing China and the world, especially with regard to energy and the environment, 3) he gives a fine exposition of the macro-economic forces shaping China and the US today, especially with regards to currency and trade issues, 4) he has travelled extensively throughout China and has come to know the people quite well, and 5) he writes in a way which draws the reader to turn the page and seek more. I had read about half of these articles when they first appeared in The Atlantic Magazine. The new ones were a delight, and the old ones were pleasant to re-read. This is a fine piece of journalism.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding! February 25, 2009
Fallows wrote these essays between the summers of 2006-2008 while living in China; he had also traveled there in 1986.

Clearly, Fallows is impressed with China - noting that Shanghai (in 2006) has five subway lines, with better features than anywhere in the U.S., and is supposed to have 13 lines by 2010. While quite concerned about its pollution, he also reports being impressed with the efforts underway to deal with the problem. Fallows finds China's efforts to limit Internet access somewhat puzzling - they are not that difficult to get around, but most don't bother.

China spends just over 3% of its GDP on education at all levels - about half as much as the average for developed countries. (Other sources estimate U.S. expenditures at about 8% of GDP.) Most of the money goes to the top ten schools.

Returnees from the U.S. bring not only their experience and learning, but a sense that bribery is wrong, support for open academic debate (even with one's elders), and techniques for funding start-ups.

Some economists believe letting the yuan's value rise sharply would drive down import costs (including energy), and not reduce experts much since many of its exports are no longer made in the U.S. or Europe.

Broad Air Conditioning corporation uses natural gas and lithium bromide - this creates little transmission line load (problematic in China), is more energy efficient (fewer energy conversions), and relies on natural gas in the summer when it is cheapest. Workers are paid about $175/month + room and board; typically off two days/month, and work up to 14 hours/day (about 336/month). Yet, Chinese workers have a great sense of hope and save about 50% of pay - something not possible with American minimum-wage workers.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Insightful without trying too hard
I enjoy the storytelling style of Mr. Fallows. He brings the world of China to life for the reader, giving it relevance and maintaining respect for the people about whom he writes. Read more
Published 10 months ago by Stewart Lee Beck
4.0 out of 5 stars Very Interesting
I was dreading reading this book for my world geography class last year, but it was actually extremely interesting. Read more
Published 14 months ago by Morgan
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Analysis on China
I think this book provides a rather objective view of modern China. It neither flatters China nor stoops to common, western stereotypes.
Published 17 months ago by Andy
4.0 out of 5 stars Important Reading for Understanding China's Economy
While living in China between 2006 and 2008, James Fallows parses the Chinese economic engine for an American audience looking for a beyond the headline interpretation. Read more
Published 17 months ago by A. Silverstone
5.0 out of 5 stars Gift for dad
I bought this for my father. I know he likes it so I'm giving it 5 stars on his behalf.
Published 21 months ago by Lynne
5.0 out of 5 stars Postcards from Tomorrow Square: Reports from China Review
Even though I got this book for my Chinese studies in school, I loved it and thought it was a well-written book.
Published 22 months ago by Ana Kieu
4.0 out of 5 stars As a lao wai who lives in China...
Fallows is a foreign journalist who lives in one of the most Westernized parts of China. He notes that not all of China has developed at the same rate as Shen Zhen, where he spends... Read more
Published on December 5, 2012 by Elizabeth
4.0 out of 5 stars From timely reporting to near-term history
I read the originals in Atlantic and enjoyed them very much then, with his American perspective around Asia, bolstered by actual living in China and elsewhere in Asia. Read more
Published on April 14, 2012 by T. Burket
3.0 out of 5 stars OK but not outstanding.
So another writer attempts to explain China to us with a 3 year stay. Fallows is definitely more skillful than your run of the mill college graduate teaching English in China, and... Read more
Published on September 18, 2011 by bittermelon
4.0 out of 5 stars why is this "vintage"?
...even if this was published in 2009 and still available? by the way, I love James and his blog on Atlantic Journal.
Published on September 9, 2011 by H. Che
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