Yet Another China Book That Might Make My Head Explode If I Read It

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Oy. This one makes all the other crappy pop-business China books look scholarly and well-informed by comparison. Kind of what a China book would look like if it was co-authored by L. Ron Hubbard and Dr. Phil.

Update: Just listened to a radio interview given by the authors of the book. It was quite impressive. They really know what they are talking about regarding China politics and economic development.

Which really makes me wonder why they would write such a book that, among other things, uses a trite and oversimplified metaphor of developing China as a corporation and Deng Xiaoping as a CEO.

The people I heard in the interview appear to be very different from the folks who wrote the book, or at least the excerpts I read on Amazon.

I hate it when complex subjects are “dumbed down” to that sort of pablum. Maybe some editor convinced the authors that such an approach would be more accessible or something? Bad idea.

I also have the feeling that the book is being used to push a consulting business, so it’s hard to take it as seriously as a more academic study. But fair enough, everyone’s gotta make a living.

5 responses on “Yet Another China Book That Might Make My Head Explode If I Read It

  1. jg

    I agreed with you before your update. I just listened to the Rehm Interview, and it made my blood boil. There is so much misinformation in the interview. The Naisbitt’s are obviously playing to the Chinese book market. It is easy to see this one becoming a bestseller in the Xinhua chain. Their information concerning Liu Xiaobo was wrong, as were so many other of their statements which were “dumbed down.” The guy has been “going to China for forty-two years,” happens to live in Tianjin – where I also happen to live – and is unable to pronounce the surname Liu, which, in Tianjin, is a surname akin to Smith. And their statement concerning the “western highlands” was right out of the People’s Daily playbook. Not all of it was totally bad, but there was enough bad in it to make me agree with your first paragraph. It brings to mind Dorothy Parker’s line: “This is not a book that should be set aside lightly. It should be hurled with great force.”

    1. Stan Post author

      The Liu Xiaobo comment was bad, and yes, there were a couple of other things in the interview that weren’t perfect. These are not Old China Hands.

      That being said, I would not call them hacks, and they seem to have a very good appreciation of government policy, structure, and so on. Surprised me a lot frankly, given what seems to be the main thrust and style of the book. I think they’ve talked to a lot of people and done their research. I particularly liked their take on Western media perception of China, which was slightly simplistic but generally on target.

      I agree, however, that they are playing nice to the local (China) crowd for some reason. They came across as big-time apologists. The parts on religion and dissent were straight off someone’s talking points.

  2. jg

    He tried to make himself an Old China Hand by throwing around the “forty-two years.” I also got aggravated with his “Have you ever lived in China?” ploy as a way of establishing credibility. Eventually I wanted to ask him the same thing. Imagine my surprise when I learned that we were “neighbors.” I, on the other hand, know how to say Liu.

    1. Stan Post author

      The old consultants’ trick: “I’ve been traveling there since 1972 . . .” Heh heh.

      I guess I’m more forgiving, or my standards are lower. The caller referred to Liu as “Li”, which is a lot worse than butchering the pronunciation!