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

4.8 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews

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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: 16.1 x 3.5 x 23.5 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 635 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #74,560 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description


“In the pages of the New Yorker, Evan Osnos has portrayed, explained and poked fun at this new China better than any other writer from the West or the East. In Age of Ambition, Osnos takes his reporting a step further, illuminating what he calls China's Gilded Age, its appetites, challenges and dilemmas, in a way few have done.” ―John Pomfret, Washington Post

Age of Ambition is… a riveting and troubling portrait of a people in a state of extreme anxiety about their identity, values and future, [and] a China rived by moral crisis and explosive frustration.” ―Judith Shapiro, New York Times

“For those new to China, Mr Osnos beautifully portrays the nation in all its craziness, providing a ringside seat for the greatest show on earth.” ―The Economist

“Beautifully written ... an absolute must-read.” ―Edward Steinfeld, Harvard Magazine

“China's Gilded Age has been every bit as fascinating, colorful and tragic as our own -- and [Osnos] offers an engrossing account of it… [He] understands the depths of the transformations, the complexity of the contradictions, and the fragility of the overall enterprise.” ―Chicago Tribune

“Evan Osnos ... has put his keen insight and intrepid research skills to use in his exploration of the internal intellectual and spiritual infrastructure of China's rise.” ―Dan Blumenthal, The National Interest

“[Osnos] adeptly chronicles… China's 35-year journey from poverty and collective dogmatism to a dynamic if cut-throat era of competition, self-promotion and materialism.” ―Julie Makinen, Los Angeles Times

Age of Ambition [is] eloquent and comprehensive…” ―Jonathan Mirsky, New York Times Book Review

Age of Ambition is a splendid and entertaining picture of 21st-century China…” ―Michael Fathers, Wall Street Journal

“Evan Osnos gives us twenty-first-century China the way the best American journalists gave us the Gilded Age--he introduces us to outsized characters, tells tales of aspiration, success, and defeat, rakes the muck of corruption and repression, and captures the tremendous energy, as well as the darker impulses, of a society in the throes of a historic transformation.” ―George Packer, author of The Assassins' Gate and The Unwinding

“The very hardest thing to convey about modern China is the combination of hope and despair, idealism and crassness, coordinated mass action and chaotic individual scheming, that you encounter each day. Evan Osnos has captured all parts of this disorienting 'reality,' but he has done so much more. Beautifully written, humane but critical-minded, funny on every page, Age of Ambition offers a better understanding of China's process of 'becoming' than most people could ever gain by living there. China veterans and amateurs alike will find it an illuminating and delightful read.” ―James Fallows, author of China Airborne

“How often have travelers asked: 'What is the one book about China that I should read before I depart?' Alas, for years I have had no good answer to this question. But now, Evan Osnos has provided a stellar candidate. Wonderfully engaging, readable and informative, this vivid tableau of actors from all walks of Chinese life goes a long way to helping us make sense out of the often confusing complexity that is today's China.” ―Orville Schell, coauthor of Wealth and Power: China's Long March to the Twenty-first Century

“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, author of Little Failure and Super Sad True Love Story

“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, author of The Forever War

“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

“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

About the Author

Evan Osnos is a staff writer at The New Yorker, where he served as the China correspondent from 2008 to 2013. He is the winner of two Overseas Press Club awards and the Asia Society's Osborn Elliott Prize for Excellence in Journalism on Asia. Previously, he worked at the Chicago Tribune, where he was part of a team that won the Pulitzer Prize for investigative reporting in 2008. He lives in Washington, D.C.

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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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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Evan Osnos has written a very informative book about modern China. He explores the opportunities that have opened up in the past ten years, and how people have used them. He tells stories about individuals and their choices, breaking down our stereotypes about what is happening 'in China'. The mosaic of voices, paths and lives that he pieces together gives a very nuanced picture of the economic and political realities, the context in which choices must be made. His book appears incredibly well researched, and I particularly liked the extensive list of sources that he gives in the back.
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Format: Hardcover
I can tell this book is the culmination of years of research and conversations with the real people of China. The author is someone with real knowledge of the country. He's not just any Western journalist who went to China on an assignment and wrote some artificial pieces on the country and never to be heard from again. These generic pieces written by Western journalists often do not tell the whole story about a country with a 5000-year history. The book is very rich in facts and conversations with people from all walks of life with various perspectives on where the country has been, where it is now and where it is heading. China is a very complex country not just in its ethnic makeup, but also in political viewpoints. While reading this book, we get to know some of the characters such as Ai Wei Wei and Chen Guangcheng (blind activist lawyer) in depth. I was always very intrigued by these characters, both of whom have been thoroughly reported on in the Western media. It was only in this book that I really got to know them and especially the rationale for the choices they have made to expose China's dark side. While Westerners are no stranger to China's record of human rights violations, we in the West hear about only one side of the country. China, as the book shows, is a country boasting a diversity of thoughts and opinions, but in the end, what every Chinese person aspires to are prosperity and a better life than what their parents' or grandparents' generation had. They may each express their desire in a different way but at the end of the day, they all seek better economic and political conditions than the status quo. We read about their challenges, successes and failures.Read more ›
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
If you want to understand the social, political and economical revolution that China has been going through in the last twenty years, read this book. The author has an acute sense of observation and analysis of everyday life in present-day China. It is fascinating to see how the Communist Party has abandoned the utopian communist ideology to embrace state-directed savage capitalism in order to perpetuate its control over the country. Despite the fast-paced changes we see taking place everywhere in the last twenty years, fundamentally the Chinese society has not changed a bit in the last three thousand years: it is still a society plagued with corruption and patronage, where a microscopic minority exploits the mass.

But now, thanks to the Internet and new technologies, it is no longer possible to isolate the country from the rest of the world. In the not-too-far future, either Chinese society finally becomes more and more similar to what is generally referred to as a "western" society, or big trouble looms ahead.

Before leaving his post, Hu Jintao declared: " we will never copy a Western political system". Twenty-five hundred years ago, Confucius said people take different routes but they will eventually come to the same conclusion.
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Excellent book, it was recommended on CNN, glad I read it and learned some interesting things about China!!
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