Book Review: China Road

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Gifford, Dan. China Road : a journey into the future of a rising power. Random House, 2007. Available in both Print or Audiobook

China Road is a travelogue about a journey across China, from Shanghai to the outer most reaches of the country, to the border with Kazakhstan, a journey of three thousand miles. Author Rob Gifford is a reporter with National Public Radio with extensive experience working and living in China. He travels along Route 312, the Chinese Mother Road, stopping at cities and towns along the way, interviewing Old Hundred Names, the common people, the regular Joes, about their lives and what it means to live in China’s heartland today.

The book begins in Shanghai, China’s most modern city. The urban economy is booming and for professionals there, life is good. There is no question that the future is even brighter. But China is a huge country and as he leaves Shanghai and travels west, Gifford finds a growing gap between urban rich and rural poor. He speaks to migrant workers, impoverished peasants, prostitutes, truck drivers, Tibetan monks, and even a hermit. He finds that the old cradle to grave provision by the state has collapsed, leaving many people worse off than before. For them, life is “Ren chi ren,” or “Man eat man.”.

Gifford skillfully interweaves both humor and history throughout his story, making China Road an informative book and a very entertaining read. His observations are insightful and personal, yet the book also presents many strategic and political issues that effect China’s economic development.

China Road is available at Ford Library in both Print or Audiobook format.

© Reviewer: Meg Trauner & Ford Library – Fuqua School of Business. All rights reserved.


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