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Mao: The Unknown Story
Mao: The Unknown Story
by Jung Chang
Edition: Paperback
Price: $15.22
280 used & new from $0.37

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Mao and the Party Exposed in Inglorious Detail, March 28, 2014
This review is from: Mao: The Unknown Story (Paperback)
I have been an educator in China for most of the past two decades. One of my Chinese colleagues has a cousin who works in the upper echelon of the Public Security Bureau. While anecdotal, it is nonetheless telling that his cousin told him that this book was anticipated with dread among those charged with rooting out pirated copies of it. Chang's biography remains one of the most blacklisted books in China to this day for it exposes not only the absolute degeneracy of this Chinese dictator but of the Party itself. The Party leaders know that their legitimacy rests on preserving the false legacy of Mao as the Great Helmsman who set in motion the New China. So the Party continues to whitewash much of Mao's sordid legacy, adhering to the official line that he was 30% incorrect, as Deng Xiaoping, one of his victims, declared during the official reappraisal of the Cultural Revolution. Deng's math was, of course, off by a lot, and today Mao enjoys almost a cult following among Party stalwarts, his likeness now on bills of every denomination--and on the dashboards of many taxis. In Hunan, where he was born, I have actually seen small wooden shrines with his portrait, as if he were some Buddhist deity. The younger generations here are far removed from the fallout of this despot, whose sociopathic drive to power and to remain in power led directly and indirectly to the tragic and unnecessary deaths of tens of millions. Until the Chinese government permits the nation's own intellectuals to publish at will on Mao and redefine his legacy, works by Western and Westernized authors like Halliday and Chang will have to fill the breach.

While it is true that the authors have an ax to grind, it is a bloody ax that has been hanging in the shed of history for too long. Although some good studies predate it, none have captured the relentlessly self-serving, narcissistic and depraved zeal of this Chinese leader more than this book. I found the early chapters on the Communist base in Jiangxi Province especially insightful. Clearly, Mao had made it amply known what would be in store for the nation were he to become the paramount leader of China. What is also made abundantly evident in this book is how bad Zhou Enlai and the rest of Mao's inner circle really was. This parallel commentary is also invaluable for its indictment of the Party mentality from its inception.


What the U.S. Can Learn from China: An Open-Minded Guide to Treating Our Greatest Competitor as Our Greatest Teacher
What the U.S. Can Learn from China: An Open-Minded Guide to Treating Our Greatest Competitor as Our Greatest Teacher
by Ann Lee
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $18.25
83 used & new from $4.38

3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Valuable Insights on Economics but Not Foreign Policy, February 14, 2013
I read this book with great anticipation, as it is the first to turn the mirror on American economic policy and planning, from a comparative perspective involving China, and it does so insightfully and compellingly. Lee clearly speaks as the insider she is on financial matters, and as one who has long straddled two cultures. The prudent pragmatism of China's leadership has helped it to avoid the fallout from the collapse of the Soviet Union, though it has not been able to take the Japanese path to international economic power, instead having to settle for a tremendous amount of direct foreign investment. That said, the Chinese have shown a remarkable willingess to adapt and learn from the West, both good and bad, how to conduct economic policy. The book makes abundantly evident that despite the advantage of being able to make policy decisions arbitrarily, the Chinese leadership has been stewards of a cautious course of economic development that has mostly served the country well, though the rapid economic rise has inevitably led to a large wealth gap, exacerbated by rampant corruption. Of course, industrial espionage and until recently wholesale copyright violation has not hurt their cause any, nor has the ability to control the banking system, and regulate the currency by refusing to make it readily convertible. All this aside, China has made planning decisions relatively free from political interference, and not only because of one-party rule.

Where I find fault in this book--and where I think the author is on shaky ground--is in her analysis of American foreign policy. On this topic she overextends herself well beyond her area of expertise, which I found off-putting. Her perception that China has used its soft power shrewdly is mistaken: its policies appeal to mutual economic benefit without regard for their moral and ethnical ramifications. Never mind that China looks the other way while conducting trade with Iran, North Korea, and the Sudan, among other rogue regimes, or that it enforces colonial rule on Tibet and Xinjiang, and attempts to lay claim hundreds of kilometers of coastal waters. In an interview recently with CCTV News in Beijing, Lee insinuated that American propaganda (which is how she characterizes our campaign for human rights and democracy) paves the way for the military industrial complex. She also described our use of soft power as hypocritical, making the speciously narrow claim that the treatment of Black men in our prison system excludes us from being able to condemn human rights violations abroad. In this regard, she is either naive or disingenuous, but in either case playing the role of the useful idiot.


Bulova Dress Men's Quartz Watch 95S10
Bulova Dress Men's Quartz Watch 95S10
Offered by DeluxeDeals
Price: $299.99

5.0 out of 5 stars A Fine Traditional Style Watch, February 13, 2013
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
My maternal ancestors came from Bohemia, so having a Bulova made by a Bohemian immigrant, and in a simpler style suits me well. The watch has a simple elegance; the face isn't cluttered with dials and numbers. The watch looks and feels like fine quality. The hidden clasp takes a while to get used to but once you get the hang of it, no problem.


Factory Girls: From Village to City in a Changing China
Factory Girls: From Village to City in a Changing China
by Leslie T. Chang
Edition: Paperback
Price: $12.64
165 used & new from $0.72

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Ground-breaking research on Chinese migrant workers, February 3, 2013
Leslie Chang has produced a work of immense value to both the general reader and the scholar--itself an elusive feat. She has deftly managed to capture both the macro and micro aspects of the largest annual human migration in history, involving upwards of 200 million rural Chinese to urban areas and home again. In the social sciences, this book would constitute a longitudinal case study for she spends years in the field to gain an intimate and hence accurate understanding of her "study" participants. I found this book to also be a refreshingly easy read and uncluttered with academic jargon, not to mention the self-absorbed writing style that typically accompanies it. Moreover and perhaps most importantly, Chang has come to her fieldwork with an open mind rather than a fixed ideological agenda. She is genuinely inquisitive and there to learn whatever comes her way; at those moments where she could be judgmental, she still finds cause for a humorous or ironic touch. In other words, her writing is lucid, compelled toward objectivity in outlook even while highly subjective because of her regular contact with her informants, a small group of factory girls, and refreshingly frank. She reveals all from the lure of prostitution to the mundane aspects of life in the factory dorm and village home. It is her depiction of village life that might prove most insightful to anyone with more than a passing interest in contemporary Chinese life.

Chang delivered a TEDTalk a few years ago in northern Europe and demystified the image of the typical factory girl as thoroughly abused, lost and even aimless, and without hope. Far from it, the girls she befriends are agents of their own life changes, more entrepreneurial and forward thinking than those they left behind in the village and many urban dwellers as well. They take charge of their lives and succeed variously in small but significant ways. They have a future of a sort they could never imagine back in their towns and villages. Though the focus is clearly on the young women, the young men are also portrayed as they should be in any broadly based serious book of this kind. We are literally given a front row seat into the personal lives of these Chinese youth who are constantly on the move in search of a better, more meaningful life. Chang shows us those lives warts and all. Along the way, and without resorting to rant or other stridency, she reveals the mischaracterization in the Western press of these factory girls as victims of internatonal capitalism run amok. She even shines a light on the factory floor managers from time to time and demonstrates that their lives are often intertwined with those they supervise because of common circumstances. Those interested in comparative economics, in how English is taught to this subculture both in and around the factory, in how unions have distorted the Western image of these girls, and in the contribution they are making to the major shift to rapid urbanization in China, should find this required reading.

One critique, as others have pointed out: her book devotes several chapters to her Chinese ancestors and their family upheaval, both in leaving Northeast China for provinces to the south, and for some in coming to the U.S. While interesting, it would have been better off in another book. Chang was clearly trying to seek parallels between her family's migration and those of these factory girls but they involved far removed time and space, and socio-political conditions. Thus the earnest effort falls flat and her editors should have realized it. They also tend to detract from rather than enhance the narrative of the factory girls.

For two years I worked in the Pearl River Delta, which is the setting of most of this book, and shared buses with many of these factory girls. I often wondered what their lives were like and once got the chance to visit a factory and its dorms, but it was woefully insufficient to gain a true grasp of their lives, their hopes, and their dreams. And in the end, that is perhaps the finest aspect of Chang's reporting, that she makes amply evident just how much most of these factory girls dream even as they must endure countless hardships most readers of this book can only imagine.

I applaud her sincerity and devotion to the task wholeheartedly and plan to use her book in one of my courses in China.


The Whites of Their Eyes: The Tea Party's Revolution and the Battle over American History (Public Square)
The Whites of Their Eyes: The Tea Party's Revolution and the Battle over American History (Public Square)
by Jill Lepore
Edition: Hardcover
116 used & new from $1.80

5 of 13 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A Coffee Table Book for Conversation Among Liberal Elites, January 16, 2013
Lepore takes liberties with Tea Party beliefs even as she is self-assured to the point of smugness about her interpretation of how we acquired and cherish our collective liberties. Once again, a liberal professor not only essentializes a conservative movement but satirizes it recklessly, hiding behind humor to be sanctimonious.

What disturbs me more, however, is that a similar work about Occupy Wall Street or some other left wing activist group by a conservative historian (of whom there are precious few these days) would never be seriously considered, much less published by a prominent academic press. This glaring double standard is lost on the Left who have long since grown accustomed to benefiting from domination of the academia. In other words, this book (of which I was only able to stomach reading about a dozen passages here and there) merely continues the meta-narrative of those who would presume to know what others think--others they have never spent time with or really tried to understand on a personal level.

And therein is the most unfortunate postscript to this book.
Comment Comments (5) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 3, 2014 4:18 AM PDT


Dear Father, Dear Son: Two Lives... Eight Hours
Dear Father, Dear Son: Two Lives... Eight Hours
by Larry Elder
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $17.40
77 used & new from $0.23

8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Should Be Required Reading for the NAACP and Black Caucus, January 14, 2013
This book speaks truth to power, as the Left is so fond of saying. I'm coopting the term, so deal with it. Elder should be an advisor to the President, or at least the Black Caucus, or the Urban League. He knows of what he speaks, and what he writes rings with the clarity of reality writ small and large. As one who voluntarily taught in an inner city Black school for a decade before burning out, who lived in the community for 12 years before moving out of fear of rising crime, and who returned to that community a decade later, I can vouch for the importance of its underlying message. The functional Black family with a father or a positive father figure has all but disintegreated over the past few decades as the welfare state and entitlements have become the new plantation master, led by well intentioned but completely misguided liberal activists. Elder sees through this smoke and mirrors and forces us as readers to look at his father not only as a person who struggled greatly and unfairly but who managed to survive and succeed long before the welfare state came along. Elder understands at last not only who his father was, and is, but what he represents. And what he symbolizes in the potential of Black men to flourish in this country if only the government will stop enabling them in ways that actually hold them back, or allow them to feel justified in holding themselves back.

Elder is a fresh voice but unfortunately a lonely voice (only Shelby Steele and John McWhorter have really joined him in the dialogue) out there. The glaring and disturbing fact that he is ignored, and that his radio show is shunned by most liberal Blacks, makes it sadly clear that a herd mentality persists in the Black community. Most are not open to other views even as some refuse to accept the victimhood status thrust upon them by White and Black liberals alike.

A moving, get-real account that deserves a much wider readership than it will garner.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 26, 2013 11:41 AM PDT


Pocket Mandarin Chinese Dictionary
Pocket Mandarin Chinese Dictionary
by Philip Yungkin Lee
Edition: Paperback
Price: $6.60
104 used & new from $1.58

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Handy as Heck for Living or Traveling in China, Singapore or Taiwan, January 9, 2013
I've been using this convenient, compact dictionary of putonghua, or Mandarin Chinese, in China as an educator for a decade. I've found it easy to use: it contains both Chinese characters and pinyin, the Romanized version, with the four tones necessary to distinguish sounds and words. Instead of lengthy definitions, it provides one or two word meanings and synonyms as well as alternate pronunciation to account for regional variation in usage. Few, if any, other small dictionaries offer all these things. It has only the most frequently used words in 88 little pages. No extra pages stuffed in. Get it.


"They Say / I Say": The Moves That Matter in Academic Writing with Readings (Second Edition)
"They Say / I Say": The Moves That Matter in Academic Writing with Readings (Second Edition)
by Gerald Graff
Edition: Paperback
Price: $47.44
355 used & new from $18.00

7 of 10 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not Recommended as a Primer for ESL/L2 Students, November 15, 2012
We were asked to use this book for our academic writing course for EFL students. We did so begrudgingly, as on many levels it is simply inappropriate. First, it contains too much incidental vocabulary to allow adequate comprehension by all but advanced L2 readers of English. Second, both its selections and introductory chapters are ethnocentric, ignoring the conceptual needs and cultural background of the typical EFL student. Third, the selections as a whole promote an ideologically agenda that is decidely to the Left. Many EFL students are justifiably turned off by politically charged prose, as is this instructor. I did find the discussion/debate templates and some of the introductory material useful, however.


Longman Chinese-English Visual Dictionary of Chinese Culture (English and Mandarin Chinese Edition)
Longman Chinese-English Visual Dictionary of Chinese Culture (English and Mandarin Chinese Edition)
by Roderick S. Bucknell
Edition: Hardcover
28 used & new from $41.36

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential Handbook for Expats, Writers, and Educators in China, August 11, 2012
I first came across this reference guide in 1998, in Beijing, and was amazed at its scope and the accuracy of its illustrations. One has to keep in mind that this is foremost a reference for NOUNS, that is, places, things, objects and not meant as a grammar book. Many of the things depicted are now quite dated except, notably, in the countryside, where the majority of Chinese still live. Writers and historians, as well as educators, will find this an invaluable, unique resource, as will students wishing to attain fluency, and expats living in this developing nation. NOTE: each reprint is without revision or update, so don't be mislead by the new cover design.


Treasury of Walt Whitman: Leaves of Grass, 2/Cassette
Treasury of Walt Whitman: Leaves of Grass, 2/Cassette
by Alexander Scourby
Edition: Audio Cassette

5.0 out of 5 stars The Finest on Tape of Whitman's Works, December 18, 2011
As a college student I more than three decades ago I checked out these cassette tapes from a public library in my hometown. I was almost mesmirized by Scourby's reading of Whitman's epic poem, "When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom'd," concerning the death of Lincoln. His voice is clear and haunting, and generally unrivaled in its renditon of these poems. It's a pity that they have not been re-recorded onto CD for future generations. Scourby had no rival in reading from the Bible, in my estimate, and none here either. I was relieved to finally find a used copy on amazon.com as many public libraries do not house it.


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