China's Brave New World

China's Brave New World

—And Other Tales for Global Times
Jeffrey N. Wasserstrom
Foreword by Vladimir Tismaneanu
Distribution: World
Publication date: 5/22/2007
ISBN: 978-0-253-02776-4
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If Chairman Mao came back to life today, what would he think of Nanjing’s bookstore, the Librairie Avant-Garde, where it is easier to find primers on Michel Foucault’s philosophy than copies of the Little Red Book? What does it really mean to order a latte at Starbucks in Beijing? Is it possible that Aldous Huxley wrote a novel even more useful than Orwell’s 1984 for making sense of post-Tiananmen China—or post-9/11 America?

In these often playful, always enlightening “tales,” Jeffrey N. Wasserstrom poses these and other questions as he journeys from 19th-century China into the future, and from Shanghai to Chicago, St. Louis, and Budapest. He argues that simplistic views of China and Americanization found in most soundbite-driven media reports serve us poorly as we try to understand China’s place in the current world order—or our own.

Author Bio

Jeffrey N. Wasserstrom is Professor of History at the University of California, Irvine. His books include Student Protests in Twentieth-Century China: The View from Shanghai. He lives in Irvine, California.


". . . Recommended for medium-sized and larger libraries, as well as for the personal reading of librarians interested in China." —Library Journal

". . . rather effortlessly brilliant . . . . It penetrates with a lightly knowing eye and ear into the interior mind, heart and soul of giant China and the innumerable Chinese." —AsiaMedia

"China's Brave New World is a must-read for anyone interested in the world's most rapidly changing society. Wasserstrom explores China with an ethnographer's lens: he takes the reader into coffee shops, fast-food joints, red-chip firms, and bootleg video parlors—the kinds of places where with-it young Chinese spend their time. These are the stories that lie behind the 'economic miracle' of post-Mao/post-Teng China." —James L. Watson, Harvard University, editor of Golden Arches East: McDonald's in East Asia

"This book provides a powerful lens for outsiders to understand a globalizing China and a unique mirror for the Chinese to reflect on their own society in a global context." —Yunxiang Yan, author of Private Life Under Socialism

"These are not only reflections on the 'brave new world' of China's globalizing regions, but also an intimate tour of the author's thoughts on Eastern Europe, the handover of Hong Kong, Mark Twain's Missouri, and much in between. Setting aside his hat of academic historian, Wasserstrom writes in lively, clear language and is not afraid to put his own actions and private feelings into his absorbing and penetrating accounts." —Perry Link, author of The Uses of Literature: Life in the Socialist Chinese Literary System and Evening Chats in Beijing.

". . . readers will find themselves far more observant and attentive to local distinctions when they take their first or next trip to China." —Stanley Rosen, The China Journal No. 60

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Table of Contents

Foreword by Vladimir Tismaneanu
Part One: Adventures in China-Watching
1. Burgers, Beepers, and Bowling Alleys
2. Mr. Mao Ringtones
3. All the Coffee in China
4. The Generalissimo Would Not be Amused
Part Two: The Inscrutable West
5. Searching the Stars for Emily Hahn
6. Traveling with Twain
7. Around the World with Grant and Li
8. The Time Machine of Tippecanoe County
Part Three: Turn-of-the-Century Flashbacks
9. Mixed Emotions: China in 1999
10. Karl Gets a New Cap: Budapest in 2000
11. Patriotism in Public Life: The United States in 2001
12. A San Francisco of the East: Hong Kong in 2002
Part Four: The Tomorrowland Diaries
13. China's Brave New World
14. Chicago in an Age of Illusions
15. Why Go Anywhere?
16. Faster than a Speeding Bullet Train
Afterword: Rhymes for Our Times

Bibliography of Works Discussed