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.)
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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