China Beat Archive



Date of this Version


Document Type



January 18, 2008 in The China Beat


Copyright January 18, 2008. Used by permission.


My latest book—and my first that is virtually free of footnotes, includes lots of first-person anecdotes, and has some chapters that combine equal parts historically informed analysis and playful musings—went into production a year ago. At the time, I didn’t realize quite how much of a “best of times, worst of times” year 2007 would turn out to be for the appearance of a work like China’s Brave New World—And Other Tales for Global Times, which strives to offer an alternately serious and whimsical look at ways the PRC and the world at large have been changing.

On the plus side, general interest in China, already on the rise, grew even greater over the course of 2007. On the negative side, this interest sometimes took forms (including dreams of striking it rich by investing in a new market and fears of a menacing rising power) that led people to seek in books simple answers to complex China questions, and mine refuses to offer a simple thumbs up or thumbs down assessment.

On the plus side, the newsworthiness of China made it more likely than it might have been in another year that radio show hosts would interview me about the book. On the negative side, due to budget cut-backs, 2007 saw many American newspapers dramatically reduce the number of reviews of books of any kind they ran.