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5.0 out of 5 stars Where do the children play?, 10 May 2013
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This review is from: Thunder from the East: Portrait of a Rising Asia (Hardcover)
A husband and wife team, both New York Times reporters, explain their experience of Asia, particularly Japan, with clear reference to facts garnered from World Bank statistics or their own bank of interviews with rich and poor Asians. Clearly written, they weigh the evidence well, recognising the bad things that capitalism does (to, for example, Japan's Mom & Pop lumber business in Omiya or child health in Badui, in China's rural Gansu Province), but ultimately believing in the efficiency and productivity gains you get from free markets. Which makes the book, written in 2001, feel slightly anachronistic, given the sneaking contempt we all have towards a capitalism which has resulted in the insolvency of banks and governments in Europe, as well as mass youth unemployment. This is a good thing, however, because viewing everything through the lens of the 2007 - 2013 global financial crisis, makes you magnify one thing: debt. So you risk missing many of the things that credit and markets have made possible, like rising respect for females and their participation in the labour force, or the magic of clean water, electricity and flushing loos. Of course, there are passages which you know you have read before, generic allusions to World Bank data, but these are unavoidable and kept to a minimum by a pair of authors committed to originality as well as truth. A high quality explanation of Asia, infused, dare I say, with the spirit of "Where do the children play?" by Cat Stevens. I have one reference, in particular, to thank them for, an expression by W.B. Yeats that "education is not filing a bucket, but lighting a fire."
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