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CHINA: Portrait of a People Paperback – 1 Jan 2008

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Product details

  • Paperback: 638 pages
  • Publisher: Blacksmith Books (1 Jan. 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9889979942
  • ISBN-13: 978-9889979942
  • Product Dimensions: 16.1 x 5.4 x 15.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 579,110 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

An inveterate vagrant who flirts with pictures and words, Tom Carter spent 2 straight years backpacking a groundbreaking 35,000 miles across all 33 Chinese provinces, and was named "one of China's foremost explorers" by The World of Chinese magazine. His first book CHINA: Portrait of a People has been hailed as the most comprehensive book of photography on modern China ever published by a single author. He is also the editor of Unsavory Elements, an anthology about foreign expats in China. Tom was born and raised in the City of San Francisco, graduated with a degree in Political Science from the American University in Washington, D.C. and has called China home since 2004.

Product Description

Review

In China: Portrait of a People, Tom Carter shows us that there are actually dozens of Chinas. --Christian Science Monitor, August 27, 2010

A remarkable book, compact yet bursting with images that display the diversity of a nation of 56 ethnic groups. --San Francisco Chronicle, September 26, 2010

Capturing the diversity of China's 56 ethnic groups is a remarkable achievement ... A study well worth having on your bookshelf. --South China Morning Post, January 11, 2009

Carter's weighty book takes an effort to carry home from a store. But anyone interested in China should love owning it. --Cairns Media Magazine, October 7, 2008

Part of the strength of this book is its independent spirit. --China Daily, August 8, 2010

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Anita Patel on 5 April 2013
Format: Paperback
Tom Carter has captured a superb overview of China and the SARs. In most of the inspiring 800+ photos, we bypass the usual tourist haunts and focus instead on the locals. With distinct sections for each region, the format supports the idea that China - with its rich and colourful contrasts - is more of a `civilisation' than a country.

What is most incredible about the collection is that the photos were taken with a totally inappropriate and amateur piece of kit - a 4-megapixel Olympus C-4000. This, in itself, challenges the pretentious notion that a photographer-is-only-as-good-as-their-equipment.

It may also be a clue as to how the photographer managed to capture the country in such intimate and natural detail. Looking like a tourist, as opposed to a professional photographer, has clearly resulted in better access and increased chances of encouraging his subjects to relax. Plus, I understand he uses very little post-processing.

Carter does not shy away from featuring soot-faced miners, beggars and prostitutes, though he errs towards the positive and the beautiful. Some may believe this to be unrepresentative of a country beset with environmental concerns, corruption and ongoing poverty. Others, however, would be fair to argue that the spotlight is far too often placed upon the negative, especially by Westerners and sometimes quite heavy-handedly.

`A Portrait' makes a refreshing effort to redress the balance, whilst still giving a fair overview of what is a vast, complicated and very diverse land.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Senan on 27 April 2012
Format: Paperback
Tom Carter's book `China - A Portrait of a People' is a breath of fresh air. As a post-doctoral researcher of Chinese affairs at the University of Tokyo, it is unfortunate to see so many books neglect the visual realities of life inside the world's most populous state. All too often, scholars and observers are bombarded with cold facts and descriptions which, though impressive in their detail, do not adequately portray the color, richness, diversity, and complexities of everyday life for the PRC's citizens. Carter's book does justice to the expression `A picture tells a thousand stories' with its carefully balanced and comprehensive montage of the daily joys, tragedies, routines, and hardships of the rising dragon's 1.3 billion people, 56 ethnic groups, and 33 distinct regions. Each colorful page is accompanied with a brief story about that page's characters and location as well as the author's hands-on accounts of his nationwide experiences over the course of four years. Of particular interest was Carter's stark and sometimes shocking visual portrayal of the evident challenges and contrasts within the rising dragon as China's leaders attempt with increasing difficulty to maintain one-party rule, to address the striking wealth divide, and to hold the state together amid unprecedented changes. The plight of a severely burned and uninsured factory worker (Page 26) sharply collides with the life of a tattooed and care-free urban teen depicted on Page 523. For all these reasons, this book goes beyond the word heavy and often generalized guides written from behind the safety of a western desk. As a teacher and a researcher, I would gladly recommend this book to those seeking a sincere understanding of those who make China what it is, its people.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Richard Perez on 10 Jan. 2011
Format: Paperback
I'll just state that this book should be used in all American schools as a personal introduction to China, or -- as the author explains -- "the 33 provinces of the fourth largest country in the world," which includes "56 different ethnicities, each with their own languages, customs and lifestyles."

CHINA: Portrait Of A People is an amazing book. No less remarkable for its unpretentiousness. The author and photographer, Tom Carter, is no crusty academic, and what he provides here is a personal (and personable) view: a voyager's log in part and what is essentially a superior example of guerrilla photojournalism. The book is divided into 33 chapters, one for each province, and before each chapter are his recollections of his difficulties traveling to the regions as well as episodes where Chinese individuals (see "I, Shen Mei Li," page 134) are allowed to speak for themselves, as well as fragments of poetry and other uniquely Chinese related material -- just enough to wet the appetite for the remarkable images -- some gritty, some even grotesque -- you are about to see.

Favorite images, sections? Hard to pick since there are so many. The photo-illustrated journey starts at Beijing ('the epicenter of the "center of the world,''' as Tom Carter writes) and concludes with Tibet ("Middle of nowhere, center of everywhere"). With more than 600 pages in between. (The images in this final section -- Tibet -- are among the most emotionally compelling and beautiful of the book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Andyasher on 4 Aug. 2010
Format: Paperback
For all of us who have ever dreamed about taking time off of work/time out of our normal lives and travelling around an exotic country, the next best thing would be to buy this book! I came upon "China: Portrait of a People" quite by chance in a coffee shop cum book store, and promptly bought one for myself and one for each of my siblings. For me, this is no ordinary "coffee table" book. As the old adage goes, a picture IS worth a thousand words, and Tom Carter provides us with the most beautiful impressions of China, without overwhelming us with wordy captions. This is another of the book's strengths. True to the title, most of the photographs are of people: here a farmer with a smile of gold, there a small child wrapped against the cold. Their stories are in their eyes, and in the lines on their faces. I also got to thinking about the story BEHIND each portrait. The distances that Mr.Carter has had to travel, the challenges that he has had to face, and of course the hours and hours of trekking somewhere for that perfect shot. Not to mention the dust and the cold and the hunger and the bugs... I am quite sure that no other foreigner has travelled China as extensively as Tom Carter has, and he has given us this gift of his love for photography and for travel. Well done, indeed! I eagerly await any further work!
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