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A Year Without "Made in China": One Family's True Life Adventure in the Global Economy Paperback – October 6, 2008

3.3 out of 5 stars 106 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Journalist Bongiorni, on a post-Christmas day mired deep in plastic toys and electronics equipment, makes up her mind to live for a year without buying any products made in China, a decision spurred less by notions of idealism or fair trade-though she does note troubling statistics on job loss and trade deficits-than simply "to see if it can be done." In this more personal vein, Bongiorni tells often funny, occasionally humiliating stories centering around her difficulty procuring sneakers, sunglasses, DVD players and toys for two young children and a skeptical husband. With little insight into global economics or China's manufacturing practices, readers may question the point of singling out China when cheap, sweatshop-produced products from other countries are fair game (though Bongiorni cheerfully admits the flaws in her project, she doesn't consider fixing them). Still, Bongiorni is a graceful, self-deprecating writer, and her comic adventures in self-imposed inconvenience cast an interesting sideways glance at the personal effects of globalism, even if it doesn't easily connect to the bigger picture.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Review

Journalist Bongiorni, on a post-Christmas day mired deep in plastic toys and electronics equipment, makes up her mind to live for a year without buying any products made in China, a decision spurred less by notions of idealism or fair trade—though she does note troubling statistics on job loss and trade deficits—than simply "to see if it can be done." In this more personal vein, Bongiorni tells often funny, occasionally humiliating stories centering around her difficulty procuring sneakers, sunglasses, DVD players and toys for two young children and a skeptical husband. With little insight into global economics or China's manufacturing practices, readers may question the point of singling out China when cheap, sweatshop-produced products from other countries are fair game (though Bongiorni cheerfully admits the flaws in her project, she doesn't consider fixing them). Still, Bongiorni is a graceful, self-deprecating writer, and her comic adventures in self-imposed inconvenience cast an interesting sideways glance at the personal effects of globalism, even if it doesn't easily connect to the bigger picture.(July)  (Publishers Weekly, August 6, 2007)

"a wry look at the ingenuity it takes to shun the planet's fastest-growing economy." (Bloomberg News)

"The West's dependence on Chinese exports was neatly summed up"  (The Telegraph, Sunday 12th August 2007)

"What the year-long experiment did achieve, was to switch on Bongiorni as a consumer and make her alive to the complexities and shifting power of the international economy. (Financial Times, Saturday 25th August)

"...a fascinating and entertaining look at just how much of a challenge an average consumer faces...to avoid buying Chinese goods."  (Supply Management, Thursday 31st January 2008)

--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley; 1 edition (October 6, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0470379200
  • ISBN-13: 978-0470379202
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (106 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #840,997 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Thomas Duff HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on July 11, 2007
Format: Hardcover
So do you know where the vast majority of the stuff in your house and life is made? Have you ever given it much thought? Try reading A Year Without "Made in China": One Family's True Life Adventure in the Global Economy by Sara Bongiorni for an entertaining and eye-opening look at just how much we have come to depend on China for everyday life. Besides being a laugh-out-loud read, it will cause you to start looking a bit more carefully at that "Made In" tag...

Contents: Introduction; Farewell, My Concubine; Red Shoes; Rise and China; Manufacturing Dissent; A Modest Proposal; Mothers of Invention; Summer of Discontent; Red Tide; China Dreams; Meltdown; The China Season; Road's End; Epilogue; About the Author; Index

Sara Bongiorni, the author, decided on January 1, 2005, that her and her family would spend a year without buying anything made in China. This wasn't a radical "WE MUST BUY AMERICAN!" reaction, rather an experiment to see if it was possible to live without feeding the growing economic tiger across the Pacific. Factor in the elements of a husband and two young children, and it becomes a task far beyond what she had imagined. With her journalistic background, she set off on an adventure that taxed her will, her patience, and her sanity. And you, the reader, get to come along for the ride and the laughs.

The rules were simple. Nothing could be purchased that had a "Made In China" sticker on it. Gifts received by others could be made in China, but there would be no family purchases that fell in that category. What she and her husband quickly found is that there are vast consumer areas that are nearly all Chinese-dominated. Toys? Nearly all made in China. Lamps? Made in China. Shoes for the kids? China. Electronics? Yup, China.
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Format: Kindle Edition
The book went from one item to another that needed replacing, and the author's struggles with finding replacements not made in China. The author also focuses the book a lot on gifts to her children. What the book completely missed was the re-evaluation of how much "stuff" we really need. Not once does the author consider purchasing a product used or even foregoing the physical gift and giving the gift of experience for someone. For example, the author's husband wants to purchase a blow-up pool for their son's birthday. What about using the local pool or looking for a used pool at a garage sale, second-hand store, or Craigslist? A simple example of reuse is birthday candles. At one point in the book, the author cons her sister into bringing birthday candles to her husband's birthday party because all birthday candles are made in China. She clearly violated the boycott, but then she turns around and throws them away and later uses tea lites for her daughter's birthday because tea lites aren't made in China. What about reusing the candles----eliminate the waste?! I have used the same birthday candles for 5 years now and they still have plenty of use left in them.

I was flabbergasted at the sheer amount of gifts the author's children receive throughout the year. Again, it comes down to values and giving kids toys for everything which only sets the expectation of more toy giving. It's that word again, STUFF. How about the author take her children to the Zoo, park, swimming pool, or treat them with ice cream? Why must she belabor the Made in China products when she's in the store trying to find Halloween decorations, when there are probably fresh pumpkins outside of retail stores and grocery stores in her area?
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Format: Hardcover
I actually rushed out to buy this book this weekend after reading an online news story that interviewed this author. The book sounded intriguing. A Year Without "MADE IN CHINA": One Family's True Life Adventure in the Global Economy by Sara Bongiorni is, as the title says, the story about how the author and her family attempted to avoid products MADE IN CHINA for an entire year and the difficulties and frustrations (and humorous things, too) they encounter along the way . The book was so engaging that I sat down and read the entire thing, cover to cover, in between doing my laundry. As I loaded the wash machine, I found myself looking at the labels of each article of clothing I was throwing in. It never really occurred to me how much of what we buy is actually MADE IN CHINA. It also never occurred to me how difficult it would be to kick China out (especially for folks with kids). I thought I would offer this book up to my husband to read next (and I probably still will), but I suspect that it might not resonate with him simply because, in my opinion, it's a bit too kid-heavy so he might find himself annoyed with that (we're child-free). Reading this book felt like, to me, having a long conversation over coffee with a girlfriend. It's definitely worth a read, especially for those who are in charge of doing most of the shopping for their families. It will definitely make you more mindful about what you're buying and considerate of your own role in the global economy. Mind you this book is NOT about demonizing China, but rather understanding how dependent we are on China for certain things (especially shoes and children's toys) and how indulgent a society we really are. Or at least that's what I took away from it.
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