China: Getting Rich First: A Modern Social History Review

China: Getting Rich First: A Modern Social History
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China: Getting Rich First: A Modern Social History ReviewThere have been many books written about this 21st century phenomenon called China but few to my mind have been particularly insightful, mostly because they are either of the blatantly pro-western ideologically tinged variety that would like nothing more than for China to fail, playing on the country's many shortcomings whilst conveniently forgetting its relatively short history of modernisation or the adage that Rome was not built in a day, or the other kind written by hacks who have never set foot in the country but are nevertheless tempted to cash in on a subject that's on everyone's mind.
That's why Duncan Hewitt's "Getting Rich First (GRF)" is such a welcome surprise and should be warmly embraced for filling a yawning gap in readable and worthwhile titles in the market on what's really happening in China today without the usual ideological bias. Not that Hewitt is a China apologist or pulls his punches when he sees any negatives in the country's developments, only that he prefers to tell it as it is and leave the reader to draw his own conclusions. In writing this book, Hewitt's lasting contribution lies in bringing us bang up-to-date with the revolution taking place in the political, social, economic and cultural space of this once great ancient civilisation eager to join the rest of the civilised world. From the wholesale carving up of the country's urban landscape that cruelly throw families who have lived in these cities for generations out of their homes, to the age of the internet and its influence on a nascent civil society and the freedom of speech, to the sexual revolution among the young generation, to the east west wealth divide between peasants and the urban elite, etc, etc, there is nothing we want and need to know about China's development that GRF doesn't cover in reasonable depth and detail.
Hewitt mixes statistical facts with personal observations and interviews to deliver an objective and rounded record of trends that will shape China's path into the future. GRF is a must read for anyone interested in the unstoppable juggernaut that is China. Hewitt's book is accessible, interesting and informative. It is essential reading for China watchers. Highly recommended.
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