Monday, July 13, 2020

A Geek in China Book Review

A Geek in China: Discovering the Land of Bullet Trains, Alibaba and Dim Sum

ISBN: 978-0-8048-4469-7
By Matthew Christensen
Tuttle Publishing, 2016
144 pp, paperback

A Geek in China

Anybody hoping to attain geek status regarding China can start with this book, subtitled Discovering the Land of Bullet Trains, Alibaba and Dim Sum.
Like Tuttle's A Geek in Korea and A Geek in Japan books, this one is very attractively laid out, with high-quality pictures and multiple fonts, sizes, and colors to keep you entertained. The book covers a lot of ground, and readers can pick and choose what they want to read without having to dedicate a lot of time, as few of the sections are what anybody would call lengthy.

As compared with the A Geek in Korea and A Geek in Japan books, there is less emphasis on edgy/cool current pop culture, and more traditional lists of things to see and do.
A Geek in China is divided into six chapters, with the first three chapters covering China's history (excellent and surprisingly deep), culture and food (looks tasty) and character and society (from ancient religious values to modern-day cell phone culture).
The last three chapters cover modern and urban China (working in China, architecture, etc.), Chinese leisure time (sports, music, art, cinema, television) and, finally, where to go and what to do in China.
The last two mini-chapters are on visiting Taiwan and visiting Hong Kong. Perhaps if the book had listed Taiwan, the book could not have been sold in China.
Unsurprisingly, the book is very positive about China without getting into any controversy.
It briefly alludes to the so-called Confucius Institutes recently built on many university campuses around the world but fails to mention any criticism of them in the West. Also, the section on religions mentions Christianity, the Falun Gong movement, and Islam, but nothing about any persecution of these groups.
Overall, this is a good and interesting primer on China and its history and culture, but to get more in-depth you will need to complement this with other books.

Marshall Hughes

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See more reviews of books on China

It's All Chinese to Me Book Review

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