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.