Sunday, July 22, 2007

Pg. 69: "China's Brave New World"

Today's feature at the Page 69 Test: Jeffrey N. Wasserstrom's China's Brave New World — And Other Tales for Global Times.

About the book, from the publisher:
If Chairman Mao came back to life today, what would he think of Nanjing's bookstore, the Librairie Avant-Garde, where it is easier to find primers on Michel Foucault's philosophy than copies of the Little Red Book? What does it really mean to order a latte at Starbucks in Beijing? Is it possible that Aldous Huxley wrote a novel even more useful than Orwell's 1984 for making sense of post-Tiananmen China — or post-9/11 America?

In these often playful, always enlightening "tales," Jeffrey N. Wasserstrom poses these and other questions as he journeys from 19th-century China into the future, and from Shanghai to Chicago, St. Louis, and Budapest. He argues that simplistic views of China and Americanization found in most soundbite-driven media reports serve us poorly as we try to understand China's place in the current world order — or our own.
Among the praise for China's Brave New World:
"... rather effortlessly brilliant.... It penetrates with a lightly knowing eye and ear into the interior mind, heart and soul of giant China and the innumerable Chinese."

"China's Brave New World is a must-read for anyone interested in the world's most rapidly changing society. Wasserstrom explores China with an ethnographer's lens: he takes the reader into coffee shops, fast-food joints, red-chip firms, and bootleg video parlors-the kinds of places where with-it young Chinese spend their time. These are the stories that lie behind the 'economic miracle' of post-Mao/post-Teng China."
—James L. Watson, Harvard University, editor of Golden Arches East: McDonald's in East Asia

"This book provides a powerful lens for outsiders to understand a globalizing China and a unique mirror for the Chinese to reflect on their own society in a global context."
Yunxiang Yan, author of Private Life Under Socialism

"These are not only reflections on the 'brave new world' of China's globalizing regions, but also an intimate tour of the author's thoughts on Eastern Europe, the handover of Hong Kong, Mark Twain's Missouri, and much in between. Setting aside his hat of academic historian, Wasserstrom writes in lively, clear language and is not afraid to put his own actions and private feelings into his absorbing and penetrating accounts."
—Perry Link, Princeton University, author of The Uses of Literature: Life in the Socialist Chinese Literary System and Evening Chats in Beijing.
Jeffrey N. Wasserstrom is Professor of History at the University of California, Irvine. His other publications include Student Protests in Twentieth-Century China: The View from Shanghai. He is a regular contributor to academic journals and has also written for a variety of general interest periodicals, including Newsweek, The Nation, the TLS, New Left Review, the Far Eastern Economic Review, the Los Angeles Times and the Christian Science Monitor.

The Page 69 Test: China's Brave New World.

--Marshal Zeringue