Great books about China?

November 11, 2009, 02:32 AM posted in General Discussion

Dear All,

I'm keen for your book recommendations about China. I feel the more stories I read about China the more motivation I have to study Mandarin.

I really enjoyed Mr.China and I am just starting to read China Cuckoo. It's set in Shanghai/Moganshan so very familiar to me (so far so good)

Looking forward to your suggestions, thanks in advance! 



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November 11, 2009, 03:08 AM


I read Philip Short (2001), Mao: A Life, and Li Zhisui (1996), The Private Life of Chairman Mao, simultaneously.  They inform each other beautifully and give you great insight to both the Mao years and contemporary China. I just read the reviews of Mao: the unknown story, life's too short.  

For a closer and more academic (but incredibly challenging) look at the PRC look at Dutton, Michael (2005) Policing Chinese Politics: A History, Durham & London: Duke University Press.  This book forced me to change a lot of what I KNEW about China.    

My favourite Chinese novel is Soul Mountain.  

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November 11, 2009, 03:11 AM

Hey Kashkj

Have you read "China Road: A Journey into the Future of a rising power?" I enjoyed reading that one and would recommend it.

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November 11, 2009, 03:14 AM

I've only read Mr China! - Thanks for the recommendations keep them coming! 

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November 11, 2009, 03:23 AM

hey kashkj,

on a recent trip to hk i took the opportunity to buy an autobiography of mao that i had been meaning to read for a couple of years. this book is a difficult read, not for its language, but for its content. however, the authors(yong chang张永 -author of wild swans- and her husband jon halliday) have been critised for being selective in their research. 

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November 11, 2009, 03:47 AM


ordering Soul Mountain now! 


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November 11, 2009, 04:39 AM

what I started of "River Town" by Peter Kessler I enjoyed. The person from whom I borrowed the book wanted it back, since I was taking too long to read it (no time), but it was interesting and made me appreciate another part of out-of-the-way China.

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November 11, 2009, 05:38 AM

Hessler's River Town is a classic. The follow up Oracle Bones is also quite good. It follows the same format, following his personal narrative in addition to his former students as they have grdauated and joined the swell of young professionals moving into the cities. Well worth a read!