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Age of Ambition: Chasing Fortune, Truth and Faith in the New China Hardcover – 26 Jun 2014


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Bodley Head (26 Jun. 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1847922783
  • ISBN-13: 978-1847922786
  • Product Dimensions: 16.2 x 3.7 x 24 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 63,387 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

"The rise of China is the biggest story of the past twenty-five years. Evan Osnos captures the country in all its striving, thunderous diversity, through a narrative that moves, provokes and makes us laugh. Age of Ambition is a marvel of great reporting, careful thinking, and powerful writing." (Dexter Filkins)

"If you have time to read only one book about China today, read this one. Woven from vignettes of Chinese life at many different levels, it provides unerring insights into what makes the Chinese the people they are while wearing its learning so lightly that the narrative never flags. It should be in every tourist’s baggage and every diplomat’s library." (Philip Short, author of Mao: A Life)

"Evan Osnos is one of the most astute observers of contemporary China, and in this book he gives us a powerful and moving portrait of that country as it moves into the next decade. Using crisp and brilliant prose, Osnos uses some of the figures at the cutting edge of a changing China - artists, bloggers, religious leaders, and workers - to show us the strengths and weaknesses of this fast-changing and deeply important nation. This is a must-read book for those who want to understand China today - and where it is going." (Rana Mitter, Professor of the History and Politics of Modern China, University of Oxford)

"The best book on China I've ever read. Witty, indispensable, and often moving. I look forward to stealing Evan Osnos's wisdom and passing it off as my own for years to come." (Gary Shteyngart)

"For most of a decade, Evan Osnos has been one of the most energetic, skilled, and thoughtful observers of China. Whether he’s accompanying Chinese tourists to the Best Western in Luxembourg or watching Ai Weiwei blur the lines between performance and protest, Osnos is always engaging. This is a wonderful book." (Peter Hessler, author of River Town: Two Years on the Yangtze and Country Driving: A Chinese Road Trip)

Book Description

*WINNER OF THE NATIONAL BOOK AWARD 2014*

A stunning narrative that reveals China as we have never understood it before.


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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By A. J. Smith on 28 Jan. 2015
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
With such a wide kaleidoscope of stories and themes, a charge Evan Osnos’s panorama of Modern China may encounter, is that it could be disjoineted. Howver, thankfully it is not disjointed at all.
Interestingly it begins with the story of Justin Yifu Lin's defection from Taiwan to the Mainland in 1979 and works from there, with a Kaleidoscope of stories, all about the central theme of the fast paced change taking place within modern China, changes which are in many ways either ambition driven, or simply driven by the necessity to get by.
The book chronicles both the heartfelt, touching stories of China's economic growth, as well as it's ugly undersides. People who have followed Chinese current events throughout the past few years will be familiar with many stories, such as the 2011 Wenzhou high speed train crash, the case of Chen Guangcheng, and the stories of corruption, however such stories are approached in far more intimate detail than one can possibly gain from simple observance of the news.
A recurring character throughout the book is Li Yang, the founder of The Crazy English method of learning (and someone who this reviewer had the pleasure of meeting). Li Yang's method is disputed, and it's effectiveness questioned, but Li Yang himself is a gleeming example of someone who can push oneself ahead through utilizing the ambition found within modern China.
In all, Age of Ambition is an excellent panorama of modern China. As someone who has lived in China for the past 5 years, and am indeed familiar with many overlapping themes within this book, the book was still informative, but more importantly, and immensely enjoyable read that is difficult to put down.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Hande Z TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 23 Nov. 2014
Format: Hardcover
Evan Osnos connects the lives of prominent contemporary individuals to present a picture of modern China. He writes about the publisher Hu Shuli and how she balances the demands of strict censorship with the nascent liberalism. He compares the deep dissenting voices of artists like Ai Weiwei and more conservative ones who appreciate the difficulty of managing China today. From the accounts, it is clear that the problem is not about managing the people or the country - the Chinese have done that for thousands of years - whether they have been successful or not has never bothered the government of the day. The problem today is about managing change. The China of the Cold War and the China today are vastly different.

Many think that China is a country of many laws but no Rule of Law. Understanding China today from Osnos' account of life there, one wonders if there is any Western intellectual who can first explain what the Rule of Law means and then to show how it can be imposed in China flawlessly. China seems to have left Communism as it was practised in the fifties and sixties, and now has significant expressions of capitalism. It might end up more democratic than America one day, but such a change requires time in a country like China. It is thus important that the change is well managed. This book gives the reader glimpses of the tremendous challenge that will be for those ruling China.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By JLT on 14 Sept. 2014
Format: Hardcover
Interesting but a bit clunky. Intersperses interesting facts with a variety of human stories set against modern China's authoritarian system of government, It doesn't really flow too well in places. This is probably because it tries to marry together the enormity of the social and economic changes in China with individual human stories. These disappear only to re-emerge at seemingly random points in the book. I would recommend it though.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
An excellent book. Flows really well and gives an interesting insight into contemporary China.
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