22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
Thoroughly enjoyable read,
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This review is from: Country Driving: A Journey Through China from Farm to Factory (Hardcover)
I don't remember ever giving a book five stars but this was such a pleasure to read that I could not resist. The book is divided into three parts. First, he drives a route along the Great Wall travelling into some remote parts of the north west. His account is funny and informative in places and always written in an easy, engaging style. However, this was the weakest and least interesting part of the book. It lacked the people contact which made the rest of the book so interesting. The second part takes place in a rural village outside of Beijing. The main focus is a single family - husband, wife, and five year old son. There is lots happening in their lives - opportunities to better their lives come and go, village politics, Party politics, schooling of the son, problems of economic success as the family businesses grow. The author rented a house in the village for at least a couple of years and visited afterward so the story covers about five years. The author speaks fluent mandarin and becomes very close to the family. A great story, well written. The third part takes place in a development zone and describes building, staffing, and operation of a new factory. Once again the author manages to insert himself into their world and he tells a gentle and humorous story of growth and development in China. I think he captures the character and nuances of the new China really well.
I think that this book appealed to me, in part, because I know little about China. I was not looking for something focused on economics, politics, or history. I bought it because I was told that it was well written, a pleasure to read, and told some good stories of China in the new millenium.
Complaints? I would have loved it if he had better maps.