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Rick the Recidivist (Bedford UK)

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The Writing On The Wall: China And The West In The 21St Century
The Writing On The Wall: China And The West In The 21St Century
by Will Hutton
Edition: Hardcover

25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good in parts but rambling, 8 Jan. 2008
I wanted to read this book to understand more about the phenomenal rise of China and the effect this might have on the West, the UK and my family. I teach Chinese students, use Chinese products (who doesn't?) and eat Chinese food but I'm encouraged by our media to fear and mistrust China. This book goes part of the way to helping me understand what's going on but it was a hard slog to get to the end because it is so rambling. Having nearly given up half-way through, I'm glad I did not because when Hutton finally gets into his stride he is very good. However, the chapters I enjoyed were not really about China, dealing as they do with the US budget deficit, the polarisation of US politics, the global environmental crisis, the importance of our Enlightenment heritage and the still disastrous effect of the UK class system. All good stuff, but not directly relevant to China. The early chapters on China should be much more clearly written and more focused and I would have welcomed some case studies to illustrate some of the points being made. Chinese history and the Chinese socio-political environment seem to be so far removed from my experience as a westerner that the rather dry history lesson presented by Will Hutton is not helpful. As a non-economist I still feel bamboozled by some of the arguments in the book about the interlocking effects of the values of the renminbi vs. the dollar and euro, the levels of western debt and investment in China etc. A few diagrams might have helped here. I hope Hutton is correct when he argues that we need not fear China and that the West needs to find ways to engage constructively to our mutual benefit. Let's hope our politicians are able to show some leadership in this respect.


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