Dragon Rising: An Inside Look at China Today Review

Dragon Rising: An Inside Look at China Today
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Dragon Rising: An Inside Look at China Today ReviewMy father will be traveling to China in May for a 3-week trip, to learn more about this fascinating country. I can think of no better book, to prepare him for his travel to Beijing, Shanghai, and the Yangtze River. So, I will be sending him this book immediately.
Following up his well-researched and detailed 600-page "The Chinese" with "Dragon Rising," Becker has given the "China" shelf in the bookstore a book, which it dearly needed. Instead of reading about the Ming Dynasty or Chairman Mao, business travelers and adventure travelers needed a book, which could be easily read in a day, covering the different regions of China (Beijing, Shanghai, Guangdong, Yunnan Province, etc.), an explanation of Deng's reforms which were responsible for the China economic miracle, and some hard-hitting truth-telling about the human and environmental impact of China's rush to modernism.
On this point, anyone who has read Becker's "The Chinese" will not be surprised by his honest assessment of this human impact on the Chinese. In the chapter on Beijing, he recounts the developments that led to the Tiananmen Square protests; in the Shanghai chapter, he documents the misery of construction workers building this city of the future and the prostitutes who inhabit it; and in the Pearl River Delta, he puts a face to the cheap labor and goods being sent from China to the rest of the world: the young and petite factory girls recruited from the countryside who live their regulated lives in factory dormitories.
Becker's reportage combines a sense of wonderment and awe about China's rise with a Dickensian sensibility. Becker is terrific at distilling confusing political developments into a language the average reader can understand. But, he is at best when his journalistic instinct kicks in: traveling the country to interview farmers, entrepreneurs, beggars, prostitutes, local party leaders, labor activists, and prostitutes. In a way, the book is a series of fascinating anecdotes strung from one chapter to another.
Finally, I should mention that this is a National Geographic book, so the pictures are tremendously beautiful, even when they focus on the poverty or environmental disasters of the countryside. More of the China books would be much better, if they contained more contemporary pictures!
All in all, this is a well-rounded, very readable book.Dragon Rising: An Inside Look at China Today Overview

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