China: Getting Rich First: A Modern Social History

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9781933648477: China: Getting Rich First: A Modern Social History
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An intimate and human portrait of a society living in extraordinary times.

Welcome to the new China, a nation in motion—whole streets are rebuilt in a week, car ownership is soaring, rural workers migrate to the cities in search of a better life, and education is privatized for the first time in decades. But some feel that China is moving too fast. Since Deng Xiaoping announced in the 1980's that China would have to "let some of the people get rich first," economic reforms and social transformation have swept through the country at lightening speed. But while many have benefited under the new slogan "aspiration nation," others are struggling to keep up in what is now one of the most divided societies on earth.

Is it possible for a nation that formerly prided itself on being the world's oldest, continuous civilization, reconcile an ancient past with new dreams of modernization and globalization? Newsweek journalist Duncan Hewitt, who lives in China and has witnessed first hand the impact and speed of these vast upheavals, has written a timely and illuminating book that speaks with the voices of everyday people as they confront an ever-changing reality.

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About the Author:

Duncan Hewitt first lived in China in 1986, while studying Chinese at Edinburgh University. He later worked as an editor and translator of contemporary Chinese literature in Hong Kong before joining the BBC. He was a BBC correspondent in China from 1997 until 2002, first in Beijing and later as the BBC's first Shanghai correspondent. He now writes for Newsweek and other publications from Shanghai.

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The stupendous scale and breakneck pace of China's modernization, compressing into a few decades changes that took the West centuries to complete, is one of the great stories of our time. Newsweek correspondent Hewitt, a China hand since the 1980s, surveys the social fallout of this economic boom from many angles: the me generation of pampered only children alarming parents with crazy hairstyles and pop-culture fads; the new sexual mores of casual hookups and premarital cohabitation; the avant-garde assault on traditional values (one Beijing performance artist caused a stir by grilling and eating a human embryo). Alternately promoting and punishing these developments, he observes, is an uneasy Communist Party, its socialist rhetoric belied by its corrupt collusion with landlords and factory bosses. The author's sympathetic profiles of winners and losers comprise a panorama of the new China, from the nouveau riche craze for upscale home furnishings to the precarious floating existence of dispossessed migrant workers and the gnawing status anxieties of middle-class strivers. Hewitt's broad experience, vivid reportage and canny insights make this one of the best of the many recent guides to China's upheaval. Photos. (Aug.)
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9781605980614: China: Getting Rich First: A Modern Social History

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ISBN 10:  1605980617 ISBN 13:  9781605980614
Publisher: Pegasus Books, 2009
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