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Getting Rich First: Life in a Changing China Paperback – 10 May 2007


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Product details

  • Paperback: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Chatto & Windus (10 May 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0701178973
  • ISBN-13: 978-0701178970
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 3.6 x 23.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,410,451 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Review

'...lively and human portrait of a society living in extraordinarily
interesting times'
-- The Scotsman

`perceptive, detailed and entertaining' -- TLS

'a brilliant insider's account of life in the new China'
-- Sunday Times

'excellent... a gripping account written from the inside and with
a great deal of vivid detail' -- The Guardian Unlimited

'perceptive, detailed and entertaining' -- TLS

Book Description

'A gripping account of modern China's transformation: Duncan Hewitt introduces us to the new Chinese -- the entrepreneurs and the migrant workers, the ambitious students and the young lovers, the real estate agents and restaurant owners, the performance artists and those who search for new faiths. This is living history written from the inside.'

John Gittings (author of The Changing Face of China).


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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Bingqin Li on 9 Nov 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Probably as overseas Chinese, we are very familiar with Mao's Old Three Articles which every Chinese was required to recite during the Cultural Revolution. However, when I travel and live in the seemingly more civilized West, I have to face the Old Three Articles made in the West: "Human rights, Tibet and Democracy". I have no intention to trivialize the West Old Three Articles. However, I found the Western version and the endless political campaigns carried out by the media to be as boring as Mao's. The only difference is that the people in the West do not appear to be as cynical to the Western Old Threes as the Chinese are to Mao's Old Threes.

I found myself in tears reading this book: Duncan Hewitt really cares. He really went to different parts of the country, reached people from different backgrounds and successfully showed the diversity of the country. Importantly, he demonstrates that there is no such thing as collectivized Chinese people; the Chinese people are individuals having their own interests, which may not be the same as the Government's and the Party's. This is an insider's view from a person who lives in China, observes and writes diligently and has a good command of the Chinese cynicism, which often proves illusive to the rest of the world.

In this book he looks into a wide range of major social changes and challenges that are taking place in China. These are a reflection of what the Chinese people really talk about on a daily basis. The Old Threes are not missed out, but you can find much more. The discussions are supported by vivid and often entertaining observations and interviews.

His book gives an almost thorough account of the rapid changes that the country is going through.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By D. Burke on 12 Feb 2008
Format: Paperback
A tremendously thorough yet concise and easily digestible look at China in the present day, covering the monumental and multi-faceted changes that have taken place in the preceding 15 to 20 years leading up to what we see now. Eye-opening and mind-expanding, in parts funny and in parts sad. I had previously very limited knowledge about China, this is a wonderful grounding. It has further intrigued me as to what the future will bring, of this vast nation in transformation of a scale and speed that mankind has never witnessed before, that which already affects all of us, and will only more so in years to come.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Sheila Sullivan on 21 Oct 2011
Format: Paperback
All you wanted to know about the workings of modern China. And how can there be billionaires in a Communist State? The idea is to create the wealth and hope it trickles down to the poorer strata of society. Duncan Hewitt's writing is clear, concise and humorous with many stories of encounters with ordinary Chinese people, detailing the hardships of their daily lives, their unremitting work and aspirations for their children. A superlative read, I couldn't put it down until it was finished!
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3 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Y. Bouman on 22 Aug 2009
Format: Paperback
This book seemed really interesting but after having wasted hours upon reading the first 100 pages of the book I feel deeply disappointed. The books starts with a really interesting and well written introduction that got me in the right mood. However as chapter 1 commenced the style completely changed.

The book tells of very random macro scale happenings. I find these of little value because you get to hear about them on the news and such all the time. What interests me is getting a first hand look into Chinese society and hearing the things that are not so generally known and told.

The point where I had had enough was the point where the author had the chance to make it really interesting and then blew it:
The author tells about huge relocation programs where people were being moved from their traditional homes to new suburbs. This already started bad as the author seemed really opinionated and presented it as the evil Chinese government moving poor helpless people using criminal means. The fact that these people were being well compensated for a house they had been given (for free) during the communist regime and that the new houses had things as running water, plumbing and private lavatories was reduced to little more than a footnote. I like being able to draw my own conclusion rather than have an author pushing his point of view on me.
However, it was getting interesting when the author told about an evening where he went to see a friend and he found that this friend was currently negotiating with the relocating company (described as not being the friendliest). He told his friend that he would leave, then the woman from the relocating company comes and demands who he is and what he wants.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 4 reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
A unique glimpse into the changing world that is China 29 May 2007
By crpar - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I've spent the last month studying abroad in Hong Kong. During my course of study I've taken numerous trips into China, visiting Beijing, ShenZhen, and other more rural parts of China. Never have I been able to put into words the awe that I have experienced during each trip I've taken into China. The unprecedented changes that are happening, to me, just couldn't be explained through words. But, I was wrong. This book does an amazing job at bringing home the massive changes that have rocked China, and the world, over the past 20 years. Particularly amazing about this book is the author's use life stories of native Chinese as the building blocks explaining the experience that is China today. I have never felt so committed to sharing a book until I found this one. In summary, this book is amazing.
Understanding Modern China 2 Sep 2008
By John Martin - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Duncan Hewitt's book, Getting Rich First: Life in a Changing China, provides an accurate and personalized description of what is happening in China today. I am currently living in China and observing some of the changes he describes. The title refers to Deng Xiaoping's often quoted (and misunderstood) saying that "some regions and some people may get rich first, in order to bring along and help other places and other people, and to gradually achieve a common prosperity." The problem, as Hewitt so ably demonstrates, is that the second part of the quote often gets ignored. The result has been that while China as a whole has gotten richer not much attention has been paid to some of the problems resulting from this development.

Hewitt covers these topics in a systematic way over 13 chapters from his vantage point in Shanghai. Chapters one and two show the effects of rapid change on cities, particularly Shanghai, Beijing and Shenzhen. Other topics include the breakdown of the social welfare network, the impact on education, the urban-rural divide, changes in sexual attitudes and behaviors, the impact of migrant labor movements, conditions now in rural areas, changing consumer behaviors, the impact that these changes have had on Chinese culture and the role of the Communist Party regarding these changes. The book also includes a number of photographs demonstrating some of these changes. What makes the book particularly interesting reading is the numerous references to actual people and the circumstances of their life. We get a real feel for these people and not a book of dry sociology.

As the recently completed Olympic Games demonstrated, China is a country that has to be reckoned with in the future. Anyone seeking to have a better understanding of this country would do well to read this book.
Essential reading for China watchers ! 24 Aug 2008
By Reader from Singapore - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
There have been many books written about this 21st century phenomenon called China but few to my mind have been particularly insightful, mostly because they are either of the blatantly pro-western ideologically tinged variety that would like nothing more than for China to fail, playing on the country's many shortcomings whilst conveniently forgetting its relatively short history of modernisation or the adage that Rome was not built in a day, or the other kind written by hacks who have never set foot in the country but are nevertheless tempted to cash in on a subject that's on everyone's mind.

That's why Duncan Hewitt's "Getting Rich First (GRF)" is such a welcome surprise and should be warmly embraced for filling a yawning gap in readable and worthwhile titles in the market on what's really happening in China today without the usual ideological bias. Not that Hewitt is a China apologist or pulls his punches when he sees any negatives in the country's developments, only that he prefers to tell it as it is and leave the reader to draw his own conclusions. In writing this book, Hewitt's lasting contribution lies in bringing us bang up-to-date with the revolution taking place in the political, social, economic and cultural space of this once great ancient civilisation eager to join the rest of the civilised world. From the wholesale carving up of the country's urban landscape that cruelly throw families who have lived in these cities for generations out of their homes, to the age of the internet and its influence on a nascent civil society and the freedom of speech, to the sexual revolution among the young generation, to the east west wealth divide between peasants and the urban elite, etc, etc, there is nothing we want and need to know about China's development that GRF doesn't cover in reasonable depth and detail.

Hewitt mixes statistical facts with personal observations and interviews to deliver an objective and rounded record of trends that will shape China's path into the future. GRF is a must read for anyone interested in the unstoppable juggernaut that is China. Hewitt's book is accessible, interesting and informative. It is essential reading for China watchers. Highly recommended.
Brilliant 12 Feb 2008
By D. Burke - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
A tremendously thorough yet concise and easily digestible look at China in the present day, covering the monumental and multi-faceted changes that have taken place in the preceding 15 to 20 years leading up to what we see now. Eye-opening and mind-expanding, in parts funny and in parts sad. I had previously very limited knowledge about China, this is a wonderful grounding. It has further intrigued me as to what the future will bring, of this vast nation in transformation of a scale and speed that mankind has never witnessed before, that which already affects all of us, and will only more so in years to come.
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