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What's Wrong with China Hardcover – November 29, 2017
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From the Inside Flap
Viewed from a distance, China appears to be a stable economy growing at a healthy pace. Looking more closely, however, we discover a flawed civilization stalling under the weight of its own culture. What's Wrong with China is a personal book about a great nation at a crossroads.
"There is more to fear from a weak China than one that is strong" we are told, implying that its main problems are either macroeconomic or political. What's Wrong with China takes the reader behind the scenes and down the rabbit hole to show that the nation's most fundamental problems are actually social in nature.
More than a century ago, China watchers worried about the imminent "crack-up" of the country. Today we find ourselves again preoccupied by such a possibility, though this time around the stakes are much higher. Given the size of China's economy and the extent of its integration into the global system, the country's difficulties are now our own, whether we like it or not.
No one writes about China like Paul Midler. Drawing from years of on-the-ground experience and research, he mixes penetrating observations with amusing historical references, weaving a tapestry that is both engaging and illuminating.
China is an enigma, a Gordian knot, an impenetrable riddle that requires a different approach. What's Wrong with China is a collage of ideas, a grab bag of themes and theories, not the least of which is the author's supposition that Chinese culture is rooted in a deep informalism that cannot be eradicated.
Business and politics are inextricably tied, so the book necessarily touches on global affairs. We must let go of many preconceived notions, Midler warns, as he addresses facets of the "China puzzle" that typically receive little or no attention.
What's Wrong with China offers especially useful lessons for those doing business in China, but this is no how-to guide. Rather than tell us how our affairs should be conducted in this strange land, Midler describes how things are done, leaving readers to draw their own conclusions.
From the Back Cover
What's Wrong with China is the widely anticipated follow-up to Paul Midler's Poorly Made in China, an exposé of China manufacturing practices. Applying a wider lens in this account, he reveals many of the deep problems affecting Chinese society as a whole. Once again, Midler delivers the goods by rejecting commonly held notions, breaking down old myths, and providing fresh explanations of lesser-understood cultural phenomena.
"What's Wrong with China is the most cogent, insightful and penetrating examination I have read on the paradoxes and self-deceptions of Modern China, written by someone who has lived in the country and dealt with it day to day for decades. This book will be hated by the commissars, because it is a triumph of analysis and good sense." PAUL THEROUX
"I sure wish I'd read this book before heading to Chinaor Chinatown, for that matter. China runs on an entirely different operating systemboth commercial and personal. Midler's clear, clever analysis and illuminating, often hilarious tales foster not only understanding but respect." MARY ROACH
Top customer reviews
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Midler’s well-researched support and first-hand accounts (about quality fade, magical thinking, brown numbers, incrementalism, etc.) are convincing, and his ability to connect the dots between old and new examples to put claims in proper context is as masterful as it is entertaining. Pay attention to his insights, as they serve as reminders to look for answers when things don’t go as expected – even when one is left scratching his or her head because there are seemingly no explanations as to cause.
“What’s Wrong with China” did not disappoint. I enjoyed this book as much as Midler’s earlier work “Poorly Made in China”, which I have given as a gift to many of my colleagues.
Granted, it mostly looks at “cultural failings” and its analysis clearly comes from a Westerner’s mind. It is one-sided. But that premise is conveyed by the book’s title, so there is no surprise.
I particularly liked the quotes from 19th- and early 20th-Century books by the 'China hands' of the day. Very little has changed in the local culture, it seems. They had described it in a clear and direct manner that is seldom found in blogs but rarely in books.
One thing is for sure: reading this book will get your thinking juices flowing!