Another fine review…

of John Pomfret’s Chinese Lessons. Sample:

…China has gone from being one of the most egalitarian societies in the world to among the least. It is a rapidly aging country stricken by widespread and devastating environmental degradation, and the government’s first response to epidemics, poisoned water supplies and natural disasters is usually to try to cover up the debacle. Pomfret’s sketches of self-serving Chinese officials, bureaucrats and businesspeople will be depressingly familiar to anyone who has worked in China. (Though this was the first time I had read of some Chinese executives’ penchant for spending weekends smoking methamphetamine, popping Viagra and bedding prostitutes.) And Pomfret’s portraits of contemporary Chinese who enter adulthood with a naive optimism that is soon replaced by heartbreaking cynicism will be maddening to readers who are rooting for China to become a responsible world power. Yet to his great credit, Pomfret’s affection for the people he is writing about almost always shows through, which keeps Chinese Lessons from feeling like a polemic; the book’s accumulation of acutely observed detail is compelling.

My own review is here If you haven’t bought the book yet, do it now.

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