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Tide Players: The Movers and Shakers of a Rising China [Hardcover]

Jianying Zha
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

March 29 2011
In Tide Players, acclaimed New Yorker contributor and author Jianying Zha depicts a new generation of movers and shakers who are transforming modern China. Through half a dozen sharply etched and nuanced profiles, Tide Players captures both the concrete detail and the epic dimension of life in the world’s fastest-growing economy.

Zha’s vivid cast of characters includes an unlikely couple who teamed up to become the country’s leading real-estate moguls; a gifted chameleon who transformed himself from Mao’s favorite “barefoot doctor” during the Cultural Revolution to a publishing maverick; and a tycoon of home-electronic chain stores who insisted on avenging his mother, who had been executed as “a counter-revolutionary criminal.” Alongside these entrepreneurs, Zha also brings us the intellectuals: a cantankerous professor at China’s top university; a former cultural minister turned prolific writer; and Zha’s own brother, a dissident who served a nine-year prison term for helping to found the China Democracy Party.

Deeply engaging, lucid, and poignant, Zha’s insightful “insider-outsider” portraits offer a picture of a China that few Western readers have seen before. Tide Players is essential reading for anyone seeking to understand today’s China.

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"Zha beautifully combines the hard-earned expertise of an insider with the moral candor of an outsider. In exploring China’s defining struggles . . . [she] illuminate[s] the shadows in between, with empathy and courage."
—Evan Osnos, The New Yorker

"If you want to understand the astonishing developments in China’s contemporary cultural life . . . there could be no surer or more entertaining guide than Zha."
—K. Anthony Appiah, Princeton University

"An engaging, comprehensible cross-section of the personalities and cultural concerns rising with China’s ascent."

"No one who writes in English about contemporary China is more thoroughly bilingual and bicultural than Jianying Zha. She truly 'gets it.'"
—Perry Link, author of Evening Chats in Beijing

About the Author

Jianying Zha is a writer, media critic, and China representative of the India China Institute, The New School University, New York. She is the author of one book in English, China Pop, and five books in Chinese: three collections of fiction and two nonfiction books, including The Eighties, an award-winning cultural retrospective on 1980s China. She has published widely in both Chinese and English, including the New Yorker, the New York Times, Dushu, and Wanxiang. She received her BA from Peking University, MA from the University of South Carolina, and M.Phil from Columbia University. She lives in Beijing and New York.

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Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars nice book June 11 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
it's in excellent condition. I am happy of my choice. this is one of the best books I have read this year.
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Amazon.com: 4.5 out of 5 stars  8 reviews
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great overview of today's China from a bilingual, binational angle July 23 2011
By S. J. Snyder - Published on Amazon.com
Just how bad is much of today's construction in China? So bad Chinese have their own term: "tofu dreg."

How bad is real estate "flipping"? They have their own term: "Stir fry building."

How much do thoughtful Chinese recognize the perils of trying to comment on these issues, reform their universities, and develop arts and literature in what is still a one-party state with growing economic inbalances? Very much.

And, in "Tide Players," Jianying Zha explains the details of all of that and more. With extensive time and academic study spent in the U.S. and U.K. as well as China, she has a good perspective, especially in analyzing the ambivalent feelings many Chinese have toward "sea turtles" that have spent extensive time abroad before returning home.

On issues of Chinese politics, she has a great deal of insight, beginning with the fact that her half-brother recently completed a nine-year prison term as a political dissident.

In an epilogue, she addresses questions of China's future, again from this same binational perspective.

That said, she's a bit more optimistic on China's future than I am. She largely ignores issues of pollution, resource consumption, and the rapid graying/demographic bell curve that lies in China's future. She also seems to skip over questions of just how much political reform will happen in China and how soon. And, speaking of pollution and resource consumption, it would have been nice to see a Chinese environmentalist among the "tide players."

The book is still a 5-star, though, for all the issues she covers before the epilogue.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars China's 'New' Entrepreneurs Aug. 9 2011
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Wonderful book by a brave and adventuresome woman from China who has lived in several U.S. cities, the UK and who has 'bounced' between them and China. This book is a collection of Zha's writings about the lives of several people in China who have been extremely successful despite impossibly poor beginnings.

Along the way, she describes some of the attitudes and beliefs of today's Chinese citizens struggling daily to make the transiton to modern Chinese life.

To me, this little book mirrors, in a way, a book that could have been written about a boisterous, often messy, complex young America and some of the people who made her great."
5.0 out of 5 stars A truly insightful book and highly recommend it! Nov. 24 2013
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I've read many books on modern China, and this book is definitely among the best. The author gives candid yet nuanced accounts of several representative characters who have been shaped by and are also shaping China's recent development. The narrative goes much deeper than your average newspaper reporting to reveal the complex baggage and measured optimism of China and the Chinese people. A truly insightful book and highly recommend it!
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting Oct. 18 2013
By Eileen Eastman - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
It was fascinating reading how the various people covered were propelled to start on their path to success: the methods they used and the areas chosen. In a way their success is an illustration of how hard work, determination, perseverance and luck all played their part in their success.
5.0 out of 5 stars En lighting of China late history Dec 24 2012
By Juan Pablo Errazuriz - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Never have hear or seen more claryfiing insight view of modern China I really would encourage all readers to look inside this magnificent book
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