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Friday, December 16, 2016

Street of Eternal Happiness by Rob Schmitz

I was assigned this book by my nephew, who is living in Shanghai this year and whom I am going to be visiting in a short time.  It is a really interesting book told from an incredibly personal perspective.  The author delves into the story of his closest neighbors and others like them whose lives provide a glimpse of the seismic changes taking place in modern China. He literally follows the histories of those who he knows from his years of living in Shanghai, and lets their stories be reflective of  what has happened to China as a whole over the past 50 years. The result is a look at how, on issues ranging from urbanization to religion and the rise of the consumer class, everyday Chinese people are navigating the country’s political, economic and social currents.  It is a daunting tale of bad timing, luck, ingenuity, gullibility, and the unfairness of the winds of fortune.  Overall, everyone's boat has risen, but watching some boats rise much higher has the consequences that you would expect.  I think that disenfranchised Americans would do well to read some of these stories, because some of the parallels are remarkable.

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