Mr. China: A Memoir Review

Mr. China: A Memoir
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Mr. China: A Memoir ReviewTim Clissold became smiiten with the potential of China and - unlike many of us - acted upon those feelings by plunging into a two-year dedicated study of Mandarin. Through luck and hard effort, he then got himself paired up with a larger-than-life Wall Street investment banker looking to make his mark as 'Mr. China.'
After rigorously looking at hundreds and hundreds of potential investments, the two of them raise over $400 million and begin to put the cash to work in a series of JVs. In what should be a cautionary tale to anyone looking to invest or do business in China, Clissold describes - in rather remarkable detail - the unique 'challenges' they encounter in making a return on their investment. Clissold wisely focuses on three episodes - each involving plant managers or owners - where the Western and Chinese views of banking and contract law begin to diverge...then unravel. Can Tim and team keep it together? It'll require superhuman effort. I was exhausted simply reading some of these chapters. I can only imagine the stress and strain of actually living it. Indeed, at one point Clissold's body seems to simply give out. This, however, is not a man easily defeated.
Despite the travails Clissold faces in the book, the book is all about the potential of China. He brings life to the sheer numbers and masses of people - his description of Chongqing for example (how many people know that this is China's largest city?)..."The density of people was staggering: millions and millions swirling in the roadways, all in faded blue overalls and with piles of baggage, blocking the gates at the station, crammed into buses, milling about on the pavements."
Wonderful writing, made all the better by the pithy little proverbs that Clissold has chosen to begin each chapter. I stared at each of these for a minute or more, admiring their brevity, significance and - upon finishing the chapter - realizing how apt Clissold's choices were. Well done, Tim.Mr. China: A Memoir Overview

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