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Age of Ambition: Chasing Fortune, Truth, and Faith in the New China Hardcover – May 13 2014

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (May 13 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0374280746
  • ISBN-13: 978-0374280741
  • Product Dimensions: 23.6 x 16.2 x 3.3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 635 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #7,485 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Brian W. Raymond on June 30 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Age of Ambition is very well written so it is an easy read. It is very interesting how simple ideas have propelled average individuals into large wealth. The china system of decision making with respect to economic development and people management is working very well for now. As the level of people development progresses it will require their leaders to offer more and more which may not be possible. The book certainly makes the contrasts with the democratic world seem obviously flawed. I would have liked to see a description of a few individuals that may have only achieved lower middle class status, and their views. The book could have been longer, however I enjoyed it.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 51 reviews
56 of 59 people found the following review helpful
A rare balance May 18 2014
By Oracle of Adelphi - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
China books seem especially tricky to write, because the writer has to please two very different types of American reader: the one who has a great deal of experience with China, and the one who does not. The first reader cringes if he has to read yet another description of how Shenzhen used to be a fishing village; but the second reader can't really understand Shenzhen unless you explain this fact. (As a strange hybrid of these two readers -- I lived in China but have no deep expertise in its history -- I often experience the worst of both worlds.)

This book strikes a rare balance. It's a very absorbing read, and its multiple story-lines are impressively woven together, without any of the stitches showing. The people Osnos writes about run the gamut from a public figure like Lin Yifu (the World Bank economist who defected to mainland China from Taiwan in 1979) to an obscure figure like Michael Zhang, a young energetic optimist whom Osnos first meets at a Crazy English conference and then follows for a few years. (Zhang turns into one of the most interesting characters in the book.)

Osnos tells all these individual stories against the backdrop of most of the major events in China of the last five years: the violence in Xinjiang, the Liu Xiaobo fiasco, the "Jasmine" events of 2011, Ai Weiwei's ordeal, the flight of Chen Guangcheng, the Bo Xilai scandal, the bullet train crash, and so on. You learn a great deal about all these events, but the book is anchored in its very humane profiles of individual Chinese who are trying to make their lives better.
43 of 48 people found the following review helpful
a book for Americans May 28 2014
By TracyF - Published on
Format: Hardcover
I am a Chinese in the USA. An American friend recommended this Age of Ambition to me, saying it's amazing. But I found myself almost gave up when I read the first chapter on the Taiwan defector Lin Zhengyi. This is a story you can find on wikipedia, and lots of Chinese are very familiar with Lin Zhengyi too. I guess Americans will find it interesting, never mind. I decided to read on since I liked the writing style. The people and their stories in this book are nothing new to me. Even Ai Weiwei's part, I would just go to watch the movie Never Say Sorry again. The more I read, the more I think something is missing. Seems Mr. Even Osnos is keen on predicting the future of China. But the characters in his book are not representing the whole picture. I am not saying Hu Shuli, Lin Zhengyi or Han Han are passé, just the grass-root young strivers in the book are not those who are more likely to take over the throne. China is a elite society, even if you don't like the children of the officials, of the rich business men's, the truth is they are educated(some overseas) and have resources. They are more likely to govern the country in the future. I don't know why there is no voice from this group. If you are talking about ambitions, without input from that group, the picture of new China the author draws is just not completed. But again, for those who don't live in China, or never experience the culture, it's a good read.
37 of 41 people found the following review helpful
A great look at sociological shifts in modern China May 14 2014
By W. Sherer - Published on
Format: Hardcover
If you've been following Osnos's New Yorker pieces, you know he has a gift for finding seemingly eccentric anecdotes and using them to explain a larger point. In this new book, he takes that a step further and illustrates the overwhelming social change that has taken place in China over the past fifty years through the experiences of individuals that have lived through it. It's a wonderfully readable blend of idiosyncratic stories and insightful analysis that brings any reader, whether new to the topic or an experienced China watcher, a greater understanding of this emerging force in world events.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
lots of fascinating grass roots stories. May 21 2014
By Perry M. Smith - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This book is well worth your time since it gets down in the weeds and gives a feel the person on the street in various parts of China. Osnos's interest in China's youth is especially enlightening. China's youth of 25 years ago is much different and more diverse than China's youth today--many camps, some very chauvinistic, others highly critical of the government. A better title might have been Age of Aspiration or Age of Expectation.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Chasing Faith in a hurry.... June 18 2014
By CLOZIER Sandra - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition
Evan Osnos has worked hard and taken care in writing his book on contemporary China. As a China watcher (and worker) for 10 years, I was most impressed by the element of Faith. Chinese ask me what I think of their government and their desire for democracy, far more openly and freely than before. They invoke the fraud, corruption and “relationships” that surround their daily lives. My only reply is that the West has a culture based on Judaism and Christianity, that these religions have never been banned, and that today those values still preside even if actual practice of the religions is less strong. This does not say that the West has no corruption or fraud, but it can be investigated by journalists, by the different legal systems, and is widely published. Which Osnos explains is not the case in China, by telling different stories about many different people, in a very readable book. I would recommend for anyone who wants to know a bit more than we are generally told by Western media.

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