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Age of Ambition: Chasing Fortune, Truth, and Faith in the New China Hardcover – May 13, 2014
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“In the pages of the New Yorker, Evan Osnos has portrayed, explained and poked fun at this new China better than any other writer from the West or the East. In Age of Ambition, Osnos takes his reporting a step further, illuminating what he calls China's Gilded Age, its appetites, challenges and dilemmas, in a way few have done.” ―John Pomfret, Washington Post
“Age of Ambition is… a riveting and troubling portrait of a people in a state of extreme anxiety about their identity, values and future, [and] a China rived by moral crisis and explosive frustration.” ―Judith Shapiro, New York Times
“For those new to China, Mr Osnos beautifully portrays the nation in all its craziness, providing a ringside seat for the greatest show on earth.” ―The Economist
“Beautifully written ... an absolute must-read.” ―Edward Steinfeld, Harvard Magazine
“China's Gilded Age has been every bit as fascinating, colorful and tragic as our own -- and [Osnos] offers an engrossing account of it… [He] understands the depths of the transformations, the complexity of the contradictions, and the fragility of the overall enterprise.” ―Chicago Tribune
“Evan Osnos ... has put his keen insight and intrepid research skills to use in his exploration of the internal intellectual and spiritual infrastructure of China's rise.” ―Dan Blumenthal, The National Interest
“[Osnos] adeptly chronicles… China's 35-year journey from poverty and collective dogmatism to a dynamic if cut-throat era of competition, self-promotion and materialism.” ―Julie Makinen, Los Angeles Times
“Age of Ambition [is] eloquent and comprehensive…” ―Jonathan Mirsky, New York Times Book Review
“Age of Ambition is a splendid and entertaining picture of 21st-century China…” ―Michael Fathers, Wall Street Journal
“Evan Osnos gives us twenty-first-century China the way the best American journalists gave us the Gilded Age--he introduces us to outsized characters, tells tales of aspiration, success, and defeat, rakes the muck of corruption and repression, and captures the tremendous energy, as well as the darker impulses, of a society in the throes of a historic transformation.” ―George Packer, author of The Assassins' Gate and The Unwinding
“The very hardest thing to convey about modern China is the combination of hope and despair, idealism and crassness, coordinated mass action and chaotic individual scheming, that you encounter each day. Evan Osnos has captured all parts of this disorienting 'reality,' but he has done so much more. Beautifully written, humane but critical-minded, funny on every page, Age of Ambition offers a better understanding of China's process of 'becoming' than most people could ever gain by living there. China veterans and amateurs alike will find it an illuminating and delightful read.” ―James Fallows, author of China Airborne
“How often have travelers asked: 'What is the one book about China that I should read before I depart?' Alas, for years I have had no good answer to this question. But now, Evan Osnos has provided a stellar candidate. Wonderfully engaging, readable and informative, this vivid tableau of actors from all walks of Chinese life goes a long way to helping us make sense out of the often confusing complexity that is today's China.” ―Orville Schell, coauthor of Wealth and Power: China's Long March to the Twenty-first Century
“The best book on China I've ever read. Witty, indispensable, and often moving. I look forward to stealing Evan Osnos's wisdom and passing it off as my own for years to come.” ―Gary Shteyngart, author of Little Failure and Super Sad True Love Story
“The rise of China is the biggest story of the past twenty-five years. Evan Osnos captures the country in all its striving, thunderous diversity, through a narrative that moves, provokes, and makes us laugh. Age of Ambition is a marvel of great reporting, careful thinking, and powerful writing.” ―Dexter Filkins, author of The Forever War
“For most of a decade, Evan Osnos has been one of the most energetic, skilled, and thoughtful observers of China. Whether he's accompanying Chinese tourists to the Best Western in Luxembourg or watching Ai Weiwei blur the lines between performance and protest, Osnos is always engaging. This is a wonderful book.” ―Peter Hessler, author of River Town: Two Years on the Yangtze and Country Driving: A Chinese Road Trip
“If you have time to read only one book about China today, read this one. Woven from vignettes of Chinese life at many different levels, it provides unerring insights into what makes the Chinese the people they are while wearing its learning so lightly that the narrative never flags. It should be in every tourist's baggage and every diplomat's library.” ―Philip Short, author of Mao: A Life
About the Author
Top Customer Reviews
This book strikes a rare balance. It's a very absorbing read, and its multiple story-lines are impressively woven together, without any of the stitches showing. The people Osnos writes about run the gamut from a public figure like Lin Yifu (the World Bank economist who defected to mainland China from Taiwan in 1979) to an obscure figure like Michael Zhang, a young energetic optimist whom Osnos first meets at a Crazy English conference and then follows for a few years. (Zhang turns into one of the most interesting characters in the book.)
Osnos tells all these individual stories against the backdrop of most of the major events in China of the last five years: the violence in Xinjiang, the Liu Xiaobo fiasco, the "Jasmine" events of 2011, Ai Weiwei's ordeal, the flight of Chen Guangcheng, the Bo Xilai scandal, the bullet train crash, and so on. You learn a great deal about all these events, but the book is anchored in its very humane profiles of individual Chinese who are trying to make their lives better.
I have been a loyal reader of Evan's articles in New Yorker and his blog. When I learned he planned to bundle these articles and some blogs together as a non-fiction book, I knew that it would be one of the best books about the NOWADAY China.
However, I want to start with shortcomings of this book. I am not so satisfied with the treatment of Justin Lin (the defector from Army of Taiwan, the powerful economist and professor in Beijing Univ., the former chief economist of World Bank). I would try not to spoil too much. Evan used him to set the fundamental tone of the whole book, which is "Ambition", as the title suggested. Why did Justin Lin, a political star in Taiwan Army, risk his life to swim over the sea to come to Mainland China? Evan hinted that it was because of Ambition. Sure, ambition is important for Justin Lin. But I think Evan missed another very important factor - the social responsibility of a traditional Chinese intellectual (a 'Shi4' in Chinese). This becomes obvious in Lin's letter to his cousin in Japan. Evan actually cited many sentences from that letter in the book. But I don't know why Evan did not cite the most important paragraph, in which Justin Lin described how excited he was when he visited Dujiang Great Dam. Dujiang Great Dam was built two thousands years ago and still serves the millions of people in the basin. The chief engineer Li Bin and his son were still remembered and admired today. In the letter, Justin continued to say (forgive my awkward translation): "standing by the river, listening to the roaring waves, I cannot help thinking that if I couldn't devote myself into building happy lives for our future generations, I will regret when I am old.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Recommend: Nice storyline to gain insight on where China has come from to get where they are today. Read morePublished 1 month ago by D. Bouwkamp
This is the best book I have ever read. I am a Chinese student studying in the States. Many terms and topics discussed in the book didn't sound unfamiliar to me, but I didn't get a... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
I recommend this book to people who want to know a bit more about China in a very personal way. The story flows although it is a little difficult to keep track of all the Chinese... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
very informative and written in a way that was interesting using specific people to tell about a complex situation.Published 2 months ago by susanne
Since I have lived in Beijing, I think that Evan Osnos has really captured the spirit of place. One can say that he filled the shoes of Peter Hessler but different.Published 2 months ago by Ben Hohne
I have read a lot of China books, and this one is extremely superficial. If you have read a newspaper in the last five years, you will not find this insightful.Published 2 months ago by Jerry
The Book was somewhat interesting but not especially well written. What was interesting is how much corruption now exists in China particularly with the governmentPublished 2 months ago by Margery Andrews
Well written by a man who truly took the time and effort to dig into China and find answer and stories. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Anna E