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Sunday, January 22, 2017

Strange Stones by Peter Hessler

I was assigned this book by my nephew in Shanghai to prepare for my upcoming trip.  I have read two other books by the author, and one by his wife, so I felt like I was on familiar turf with this one, but it turns out that I was wrong.  This collections of essays showed a slightly different view of China, one that is at once a bit more complicated and a lot more critical than what I had previously read.  That is not a blanket statement, and there are a number of take home messages that are very positive, but I definitely got the sense that the author was a bit worried about where China is headed, and what they are doing along the way.  As is true with any big change in society, there are bound to be unintended consequences of a large social experiment, but there are a couple of things going on simultaneously in China, and sometimes that can spell disaster.  He retains his sense of humor throughout (or almost always), but his tales of the number of new drivers in China and the ensuing accidents, the ways of doing business when you have to do it without any officials, the one child policy and the permutations of that in terms of health and society, and so many other things are fascinating to read about.  Recommended, especially for future visitors to the nation.

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