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River Town: Two Years on the Yangtze

River Town: Two Years on the Yangtze [Kindle Edition]

Peter Hessler
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (40 customer reviews)

Print List Price: £10.99
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Product Description


I wish it were twice as long...I am not the only China-watcher who will wish they had written this book (Jonathan Mirsky)

Book Description

An account of Peter Hessler's time in the town of Fuling on the Yangtze River during the late Nineties. He observes the natural beauty, cultural tensions and how major events such as the return of Hong Kong to the mainland have affected the people of Fuling.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 721 KB
  • Print Length: 420 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0719564808
  • Publisher: John Murray; New Ed edition (19 Dec 2013)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (40 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #112,506 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
35 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful picture of a meiguoren in China 18 Aug 2003
I came across this book while looking for other books on foreign experiences in China. This one is by far the most interesting and touching book of the lot. As an English-speaking student of Mandarin, I have considered applying for a post as a teacher of English as a foreign language in China, and this book helped me decide that, despite the many differences between China and the rest of the world, it would be a worthwhile experience. The author gives extermely well-crafted descriptions of not only his own experiences but of his travels within China and the scenery and people he meets. He illustrates his growing knowledge of Chinese by translating a sign he can see from his window--at first he can read only a few words but by the time he can read the entire sign we have been through quite a lot with him.
Anyone who wants to travel within China or spend a year or two teaching English there must read this book.
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29 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wow! 12 April 2006
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
What a fantastic book. This, for me, was one of those rare books that you can't put down but don't want to end. Having just finnished it this morning I am already at a loss. I have read many books on China and this ranks among the best for me.

This is the story of Peter Hessler, an American student, who takes up an English teaching post in a remote town called Fuling where the River Wu meets the Yangtze. Fuling becomes his home for the next two years and here we are treated to a feast of Chinese life in a town where they are very unused to "waiguorn" (foreigners). We go through the many highs and lows with him and we meet a collection of fantastic characters along the way. To view this town and its people through waiguoren eyes is fascinating and a real eye opener.

Having been to China only once on holiday (to satisfy my enthusiasm) I am left feeling that spending all my time in Beijing and Shanaghai is abit of a cop out and I am now left with a real urge to travel deeper into this wonderful country and expore some more. This book has certainly given me a taste for that.

I highly recommend this book. I found it a real page turner. Enjoy.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great insight into being a Waiguoren in China 28 Jan 2003
As a foreigner with a wife from Shanghai who has spent some time in China, I found Peter Hessler's account of settling into a teacher training college in Fulling, a town on the Yangtse, full of insights into the Chinese character, society and cultural background and their interaction with westerners they meet. Particularly when there are only 2 westerners in town, from the American Peace Corps. Many incidents and events are described as their relationships with both college staff & students and townspeople develop and mature. The politics of their situation is always evident and often pointless restrictions are placed in their way but it is one of the delights of the book to read how they creatively circumvent these barriers to the great benefit of their students. The students love acting and the politically-incorrect plays that the 2 stage-manage are beautifully described.
There are many observations in this book that I have seen in other parts of their vast country. Such as the fondness for banquets and the drinking strategies that must be used to avoid complete intoxication (westerners are always targetted).
Then there is the struggle to learn the language, getting the tones wrong and inventing memory hooks for the impossible characters. Total empathy from me there. Co-incidentally he uses the same text book as that of my chinese class in Hillingdon, London. If it helped him become fluent there's hope for the rest of us.
From initially seeing Fulling as frightening, isolating and strange to feeling totally at home there after two years, there is always the unpredictable incident that comes as a shock reminder that you are still a Waiguoren. The author describes one nasty incident vividly.
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52 of 56 people found the following review helpful
In his concluding remarks of River Town: Two Years on the Yangtze, Peter Hessler points us to the nub of his experience in China:
"I had never had any idealistic illusions about my Peace Corps 'service' in China; I wasn't there to save anybody or leave an indelible mark on the town. If anything, I was glad that during my two years in Fuling I hadn't built anything, or organized anything, or made any great changes to the place. I had been a teacher, and in my spare time I had tried to learn as much as possible about the city and its people. That was the extent of my work, and I was comfortable with those roles and I recognized their limitations."
In fall 1996, Peter Hessler, at the age of 26, took a Peace Corps assignment that relocated him to a small town in the Sichuan province of China. Many natives let alone a young American who made his inaugural entrance into the country did not know and hear of Fuling. It's a former coal-mining town that is bounded by the Yangtze and the Wu. Chongqing and the Three Gorges are just hours away by boats. The book chronicles, in a rather casual but detailed way, Peter's teaching experience at the Fuling Education College and his life and anecdotes in town. Interwoven into Peter's diary are descriptions of local landmarks and customs. This book is by far the most passionate and yet accurate and objective account written any foreigners. Peter really does possess a keen sense of his surroundings. Throughout his crisp, interesting prose and attention to details, the Chinese 'laobaixing' (common people) become alive as if we are actually interacting with them.
I am in awe of how far Peter has gone in making meticulous observations of the Chinese culture and its people. A lot of what he mentions in this book is often overlooked by foreigners.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Good, fast delivery.
Published 3 days ago by chris
5.0 out of 5 stars Captivating and intriguing dip into China during the 1990s
This is a superbly written account by one acute observer of one part of China while the country was undergoing tremendous change in the mid-1990s. Read more
Published 15 days ago by Carno Polo
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
This is the first book that I have read about life in China and I found it very interesting.
Published 1 month ago by A J R
4.0 out of 5 stars I enjoyed this. It is a bit dated now
I enjoyed this. It is a bit dated now, events taking place nearly 20 years ag, and in a country that develops so fast, but it is insightful, from the pont of view of a person new... Read more
Published 3 months ago by catholic reader
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic author, great book
Not going to write a review of the book as good reviews can be found all over t'net. Peter Hessler is a wonderful author, however, who has provided me with a very valuable insight... Read more
Published 5 months ago by Jonathan Stead
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 5 months ago by ht2611
4.0 out of 5 stars River Town
This book gave a good insight into the life and times of the people - their good points and their prejudices. Read more
Published 8 months ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Good insight into China of 1990s
Interesting book about hinterland China of 1990s by young American teachers of Chinese students. However, although written by American, I find it gives an unbiased view of China of... Read more
Published 9 months ago by Mrs. A. K-nichols
5.0 out of 5 stars The best book to introduce China
This is one of the best non-fiction books I have read. Beautifully Written with sympathy, understanding, variety and continual interest.
Published 11 months ago by Mora J Rolley
5.0 out of 5 stars Teaching in a Chinese College
Great introduction to understanding the Chinese way of life and customs as it was in the 1990's. Enjoyed his follow up The Oracle Bones too.
Published 12 months ago by Margot Harrison
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