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Showing 1-10 of 22 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 30 reviews
on October 1, 2012
This is an excellent book, well researched and, most importantly, very well written. It manages to take arcane material, including what could become boring statistical data, and make it flow, keeping the reader engrossed. The author has created a narrative that spans thousands of years, and it reads like a very well written magazine article, fast-paced and filled with anecdotes and human characters that give the book a human feel. It is a fast and satisfying read. It is to the author's credit that he was able to secure interviews with prostitutes and pimps and ordinary people to humanize the material.

My one gripe is that he tells us quite sensibly in the introduction that it is impossible to draw neat and tidy conclusions about China's sexual revolution and where it is headed. Then, in the afterward, that is exactly what he tries to do, somewhat awkwardly. It's obvious he is trying to wrap it all up and come to an optimistic conclusion, but this seems forced, as though the author isn't sure himself whether he believes his own predictions. It's the one issue I had with the book. But that's a minor criticism, though I found it enough to lower my rating from 5 to 4 stars. The book is solid, and as far as I know there is no other book like it. Well worth the low price.
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on May 9, 2015
This book is chalked full of great insights into the history and leads the reader into why things are done today as much as possible. The amount that it really talks about is high. It pulls many different sources together, its very well done. The only thing I wished that was added to it was the Chinese characters of things. It would have helped in me doing further research and to ask friends about some of the things while here. It is still an amazing book and I would strongly recommend it to most everyone.
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on September 25, 2012
So you think that you have relationship problems? What if your social, family, and love life was dominated by the competing and often contradictory influences of centuries of patrimonial Confucianism, decades of soul-deadening communist indoctrination, the 21st century Internet information explosion, decidedly disadvantageous demographics, and congenitally intrusive parents? The answer is that you would have much in common with over a billion of your fellow human beings who happen to live in today's China.

In a remarkably economical and informative 217 pages, this fact-filled book surveys current trends, studies, opinions, institutions, events, and government acts and policies in China related to the most basic aspects of all human behavior, i.e., those concerning sexuality and personal relationships. However, anyone in search of simple titillation, and attracted to this book merely because of its title, will be disappointed. Behind the Red Door is a serious work of journalistic scholarship focused on issues of profound concern for the future of China, including, for example, the function and role of sexual practices as they relate to general social stability. It is clear from the wealth of fascinating information provided that the governing communist party, for whom social stability is paramount, is attempting to manage this vast populace through various barely effective policies and practices related to sexuality that are directed to mass communications (Internet, film, television, and cellphones), population control (the one-child law), criminal enforcement (prostitution, homosexuality, pornography, adult product sales), and public education curricula and media campaigns (contraception, STDs, sex education in schools).

With solid information, an informed sense of China's unique and unusual cultural history, and an obvious awareness and understanding of how sexual behavior connects with issues of economics and politics, the author comprehensively and entertainingly covers an illuminating range of social phenomena that arise from and/or are directly associated with the hormonal drives of the Chinese populace. These subjects include the effects of inadequate sex education, family pressures to marry and reproduce, disparities in urban and rural populations regarding access to information and sufficient numbers of the opposite sex, government health education programs, the treatment of homosexuality, human trafficking, and, most importantly, the revolutionizing role of the technological information explosion. This book reflects, in a very informative and accessible manner, the fact that China is in a period of terrific flux, and that sexuality and sexual behavior is a combustible social stress point that starkly illustrates how, in a complex society, human nature can and cannot be molded by engrained traditions, prevailing social policies, economic conditions, and the availability of communications technologies (especially the blogosphere).

Moving the narrative along nicely is the regular and welcome citation to works of art, literature, current events, and scholarly social commentary to underscore the point under consideration. Well selected anecdotes from Chinese people and outside observers add cultural context and a personal dimension. What makes this book work so well is that we are all familiar (and often obsessed)with these impulses and interests that we happen to share with our Chinese brothers and sisters. What is so fascinating about Behind the Red Door is how these cross-currents of biology, environment, and culture have played out on such a grand scale and in such a different, non-Western way in China. Before reading this slender volume, I knew almost nothing about sex in China; now, I believe that I not only know a great deal about sex and sexuality in China, but also much about Chinese history, anthropology, psychology, religion, economics, and politics. What better way to try to understand more than a billion of my neighbors?
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on March 30, 2014
What ahappens to a society when the moral fabric is removed. "Behind the Red Door" is a very interesting read. At times quite achedemic, at times explicit, always focused on the subject. An interesting view of the Chinese culture attempting to regain footing after the foundations were destroyed by the cultural revolution. And what happens when centuries of moral and cultural tradition encounter Western ideas? Read it to find out.
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on September 4, 2012
This work of sympathetic understanding often glints with indignation, humor, or pathos, but it is above all factual. Supported by careful research and a good journalist's eye for the telling detail, _Behind the Red Door_ sets forth how the Chinese understand and live their sexuality. Millennia of history as well as the diversity of more than a billion individuals alive today are expertly marshaled in focused chapters that cover everything from the far-reaching impact of the One-Child Policy to fashions in plastic surgery and the complex etiquette of dating.

Highly readable and extremely informative.
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on July 26, 2017
Lots of information- stats etc - well segmented under subject headings - could be more concise.
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on July 20, 2015
Waste of time
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on February 15, 2013
An informative and stimulating history of sex in China. Allows the reader to understand how the past has shaped the present and how the "party" is addressing the issues going forward. A good read for a Westerner or anyone who visits, lives or is trying to understand the cultural differences.
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on November 19, 2012
After reading several general histories and memoirs, this book provided a new and different look at China and the Chinese people. The introductory chapters seemed a bit dry, but may not be so for people less familiar/more interested in ancient China. Otherwise I found it well-written and very interesting.
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on April 24, 2016
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