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Age of Ambition: Chasing Fortune, Truth and Faith in the New China Paperback – 7 May 2015
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"The rise of China is the biggest story of the past twenty-five years. Evan Osnos captures the country in all its striving, thunderous diversity, through a narrative that moves, provokes and makes us laugh. Age of Ambition is a marvel of great reporting, careful thinking, and powerful writing." (Dexter Filkins)
"If you have time to read only one book about China today, read this one. Woven from vignettes of Chinese life at many different levels, it provides unerring insights into what makes the Chinese the people they are while wearing its learning so lightly that the narrative never flags. It should be in every tourist’s baggage and every diplomat’s library." (Philip Short, author of Mao: A Life)
"Evan Osnos is one of the most astute observers of contemporary China, and in this book he gives us a powerful and moving portrait of that country as it moves into the next decade. Using crisp and brilliant prose, Osnos uses some of the figures at the cutting edge of a changing China - artists, bloggers, religious leaders, and workers - to show us the strengths and weaknesses of this fast-changing and deeply important nation. This is a must-read book for those who want to understand China today - and where it is going." (Rana Mitter, Professor of the History and Politics of Modern China, University of Oxford)
"The best book on China I've ever read. Witty, indispensable, and often moving. I look forward to stealing Evan Osnos's wisdom and passing it off as my own for years to come." (Gary Shteyngart)
"For most of a decade, Evan Osnos has been one of the most energetic, skilled, and thoughtful observers of China. Whether he’s accompanying Chinese tourists to the Best Western in Luxembourg or watching Ai Weiwei blur the lines between performance and protest, Osnos is always engaging. This is a wonderful book." (Peter Hessler, author of River Town: Two Years on the Yangtze and Country Driving: A Chinese Road Trip)
About the Author
Evan Osnos joined The New Yorker as a staff writer in 2008. He was the magazine’s correspondent in China, where he lived in a restored house in Beijing north of the Forbidden City, from 2005 until 2013 when he moved to Washington, D.C.
He has received many prizes, including the Asia Society’s Osborn Elliott Prize for Excellence in Journalism on Asia and the Livingston Award for Young Journalists. Osnos previously worked as the Beijing Bureau Chief of the Chicago Tribune, where he contributed to a series that won a 2008 Pulitzer Prize for investigative reporting.
Age of Ambition is the winner of the 2014 National Book Award for non-fiction.
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The old Party States of the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, once they had achieved ‘socialism’, sought to freeze social change. Not so the Chinese Communist Party – except in one respect, in the field of ideas. For all the transformations it has overseen, the Party’s mentality is still that of an ‘underground party’, as artist Ai Wei put it. It is hostile to any intellectual challenges and nervous about is lasting ability to maintain its grip on power, in the teeth of the gales of social and economic change it has unleashed. The stories of this book show that this is getting harder to do. A much-touted Pew Poll indicated that 87 per cent of the population approved approved of the Party’s performance. But this was one telephone poll, conducted in the shadow of an authoritarian state. Scepticism of how representative it is is justified. The Party’s expenditure on surveillance, censorship and policing – now in excess of defence spending - suggests it is less assured of public support than its braggadocio suggests. He is sceptical that the Party can hold the ring indefinitely but ventures no predictions
It is impossible for any single writer to capture the essence of a country of 1.3 billion people in headlong rush to modernity.. There are no comparable precedents, either in speed or in scale. The outcome of this is anyone’s guess – not that this has stopped many from trying. This book has no such pretensions. It situates the stories it tells against the background of change so it is not just a collection of anecdotes but nor does it lose human interest. Overall, it is a must read for anyone interested in China’s transformation.
Despite being a long, non-fiction book on weighty topics, it's beautifully written and an effortless read. Though it is an 'introduction' that covers well-worn topics with which I'm well-acquainted, it makes them feel fresh.
It's intelligent, authoritative and personal -- Mr Osnos has been there and seen it / tasted it / breathed it / feared it all for himself, and has met many of the big names he writes about.
It doesn't cover everything. It's not timeless and at the pace China moves it will go out of date within a few years. But it captures this moment in China's history perfectly.
Well done Evan, more of the same please.
But change will come and how China will deal with it.
Like in the beginning of the 'Great March ' is Will only be successful with one step at a time .