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Mr. China: A Memoir

3.87  ·  Rating Details ·  857 Ratings  ·  90 Reviews
Mr. China tells the rollicking story of a young man who goes to China with the misguided notion that he will help bring the Chinese into the modern world, only to be schooled by the most resourceful and creative operators he would ever meet. Part memoir, part parable, Mr. China is one man's coming-of-age story where he learns to respect and admire the nation he sought to c ...more
Paperback, 288 pages
Published February 28th 2006 by HarperBusiness (first published January 1st 2004)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,697)
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Dec 25, 2010 Jim rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: business
I doubt I'll read a better business book this year. A cracking tale of a man trying to set up and invest in businesses in China, it reads sometimes like a drama, sometimes a soap opera, sometimes a comedy and sometimes a travelogue. It works on all these levels too. You can't help feel sorry for Clissold as he wrestles with business case situations that would be near impossible to control in the West never mind China, involving fraud, cheating, lying, shooting, rioting and cultural racism. The s ...more
Jun 29, 2014 James rated it really liked it
Tim Clissold, businessman and China-aficionado aiming to strike it big in China, tells his own story of how he planned to help bring China into the modern world and at the same time make a fortune in investments in a rapidly-modernising Chinese economy. However, as he finds out is not all plain sailing; problems arise from the first day: language issues, corrupt managers, inefficient legal systems, impatient investors, poor planning, and a heart attack all challenge Clissold and yet he remains t ...more
Lifeng Wu
Nov 11, 2010 Lifeng Wu rated it really liked it
I grew up in China in the 70's. I relate to most of the experiences discussed in this book.

It's one of the most humorous English books I read about China.

I recommend it to all my friends who have some China experience.

A good narrative. A good account of China in a specific period. Author's style could have been more polished. But , well, he's an investment banker.

The author could have put in a few "success" stories. The three main stories on Madame Wu (Beijing), Chen HaiJing (HuBei), and final
Tim Mortfenkov
Aug 03, 2016 Tim Mortfenkov rated it really liked it
A plain story, no insights at all. Probably I've known them all?
Kindall Palmer
Dec 03, 2013 Kindall Palmer rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great read! This book touches on some of the most hidden and difficult aspects of doing business in China. From government corruption, to money laundering, to corporate drama, to innocent mistakes throughout the journey. Its interesting to watch $418,000,000 simply disappear all to be chalked up to good experience. The writing was brilliant, i felt just as stressed as the writer must have felt as he had these experiences himself! His resolutions to daily issues, insight on the Chinese culture, l ...more
Jan 30, 2014 Patrick rated it really liked it
Really enjoyed this book - if you've got at least a passing interest into the inner workings of large business, finance, and/or China as the rising international power of 21st century - this is worth a read. (I.E. even if you have some issues with 'Free Trade' as currently practiced, in my view it really helps to try and figure out at least what's going on). The author constructs a good narrative and writes well, has a good poetic sense. His insider perspective is fun too - he presents the work ...more
Jan 25, 2015 Jon rated it really liked it
My company owns and operates factories in China, and I myself travel there often for business. For the portion of this story that overlaps with my own experience, I can say firsthand that the author's point of view is very believable. For me, that made the rest of the story even more fascinating, since I already trusted the author's authenticity. The tales of China investments and unintended consequences are a great read. Actually, my overall view of China is very positive, and this book does no ...more
Alan Wang
Feb 16, 2016 Alan Wang rated it liked it
Lessons from Mr. China

China is a pragmatic business environment. Not always about following the rules, about finding the solution

Always keep the government in mind and how local govt. can pressure local businesses

In international business, there are often discrepancies in expectations from the various parties due to different cultures and business customs. Must be vigilant in adapting to and managing expectations

Don’t assume fraud, corruption, corporate red-tape, bureaucracy won’t happen to y
Mar 17, 2008 Kelly rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
If you have ever had business dealings in China, you might enjoy this book. The author of this memoir (but shelved in the business section of Barnes & Noble) breaks into the Chinese business market in the 1990s as a partner in a joint venture company. Tim Clissold does a great job of describing the hazards of entering into business agreements with several Chinese manufacturers. Business dealings are difficult and rife with cultural and legal difficulties. He paints a picture of a messy, comp ...more
Fraser Kinnear
May 27, 2010 Fraser Kinnear rated it really liked it
Shelves: travel, culture, business
I (foolishly) studied business at university, and I've read more than enough business books, but my focus was on accounting and finance, both of which very theoretical, and there was clearly a vast swathe of understanding I missed: politics and negotiation. Tim Clissold seems to have been through the worst of those two, and in a country famous for making a quagmire out of them.

The memoir is an account of Clissold's managing the biggest foreign direct investment in China in the 90's: 17 joint ve
Sep 19, 2008 Peter rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In part of my quest to learn more about that massive economy out there I picked this book up on a whim while at my local library. I'm please to say I was not disappointed.

This book describes and details the grave differences in the Chinese business mentality and ethic from our own. It's told from the perspective of an investor representing hundreds of millions of dollars (500 million I believe) of American dollars flowing into the Chinese system. The author, and his partner are chasing after the
Feb 01, 2016 Tirath rated it it was amazing
An absolutely brilliant book - something on the lines of The Shipping Man, but better!

The journey of a guy from 1993-2004 odd - where he seeks out Chinese companies to invest in on behalf of a foreign fund - and the issues he faces wrt the Chinese culture, business practices, fraud, societal issues, logistical issues.

In short - a brilliant book on actual risk. The risk of fraud and disruption and intervention in your businesses or investments.

One of my all time favourite books!
Jan 27, 2013 Patrick rated it liked it
Shelves: business, non-fiction
A memoir of the author's time setting up joint-ventures in China's early 90s. This is very clearly a business story. There are characters (although little character development), battles (of the corporate variety), intrigue, and nefarious dealings. There is not, however, much of a plot. Briefly: the author goes to China hoping to bring investment money to the ailing factories just starting to shake off the doldrums of communism. Some joint ventures succeed. Many more have growing pains, as the C ...more
Feb 27, 2016 Allen added it
Very helpful if you want to understand how business works in China. Tim Clissold gave me insights that I had not understood even after 15 years of regular travel there. One can sense from the beginning that Clissold's investment company didn't understand the rules, psychology or legal system. A good reminder that if you want to do business in a foreign country, you need to know how things work in advance of transferring funds.
Julian King
Jul 23, 2013 Julian King rated it it was amazing
This is an excellent memoir of a financial adventure in China in the early 90s.

As a layman, I can't comment on the wisdom or otherwise of the various undertakings described here, nor of the way in which they were undertaken. But this cautionary tale is told with sufficient clarity and verve to ensure that even I, financial illiterate that I am, came away with a good idea of what had happened, and I immensely enjoyed the freewheeling style of Tim Clissold's telling.

The Chinese are baffling, even
Chilly SavageMelon
May 28, 2008 Chilly SavageMelon rated it really liked it
A really engaging memoir about an englishman's love affair with China and trials in doing million dollar business there during the early and mid-90's. My four stars are real testament to Clissold's ability to make a possibly tedious tale relateable, because I am certainly not the type to enjoy the chronicles of business.
There was also insight shared about the chinese character and hints as to why it might be as it is I found illuminating after some mysterious moments during my own brief visit th
Nov 15, 2015 Ignas rated it it was amazing
amazing book with first person experience in managing turnarounds in old chinese factories with 420 million usd investment. I got a lot of insights about the chinese way of doing business. lesson - it is much better to build from scratch than try to change existing inconsistency avoiding, incentive absent organisations that were the old factories.
Joana Marta
Oct 31, 2013 Joana Marta rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, china
I love China history and their costumes, I love to read books that explain all of these and more. This book is very different of all the others I've ever read, it's very focused in businesses in China and its growth in the early 90's, when the rest of the world is trying to reach this big economy!

Is in the middle of this that Tim founds himself, but after all of this time, a country so close and with their own costumes and values, he will discover that you can have all the money in the world, bu
Josh Clement
May 31, 2016 Josh Clement rated it really liked it
If you've read art of the deal, this is kind of similar. It's a business guy explaining a series of business events, and his thought process a long the way. Obviously way less egocentric, the author uses business dealings and problems as a lens to understand China.
Feb 24, 2008 Wellington rated it it was ok
I was disappointed in this book. It seemed cobbled together. Maybe it should have been relabled as a collection of short stories on China.

I got the impression this is book to dip your toe into the waters of understanding the Middle Kingdom's ways of doing business. The pace was too fast for me to know which information was important to the next chapter.

None of the characters were particularly memorable. For some reason, every character seemed trivial ..... in the conclusion, Tim hoped that he ga
Peter Rooijmans
Experiences, or more appropriately, adventures, of a financial entrepreneur, when China opened up to the West, where greed certainly seems as common as in the capitalist world.
Goh Jiayin
Jan 22, 2016 Goh Jiayin rated it liked it
An interesting read whereby Mr Clissold shares his story of his days in the business world of China. Well, one can clearly see his struggles back in those days and learn to be more cautious rather than a straightforward attempt.
Marjorie Bourgoin
Aug 02, 2014 Marjorie Bourgoin rated it it was amazing
I never thought I'd enjoy a book about business and wall street and china's economy this much, but I did. I really did, I loved this book, every page, every catastrophe story.
Jul 29, 2008 Santica rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Santica by: Kelly Cieslak
This book is about a Brit with a China fascination who works on a series of joint ventures in the early to mid 90's. Each venture failing almost as dismally as the last. The book does not paint a very appealing picture of Chinese culture, and you have to wonder why he sticks with this line of work after it greatly begins to impact his health. I found the book relatively interesting since I worked with a Chinese company around the same time and could relate/empathize with a lot of what he describ ...more
Jul 03, 2015 David rated it really liked it
An excellent memoir of the author's struggles with foreign investment in 17 Chinese factories. China has moved on but Clissold's experiences are still relevant to doing business there.
Feb 28, 2016 Karen rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, memoir
Started out interesting, but quickly became repetitive. The book reads like a classic case of not learning from your mistakes.
Nov 03, 2015 Rami rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Very entertaining book. A fascinating story of how so much money can evaporate if you do not know what you are doing in business.
Mirek Jasinski
Jun 17, 2015 Mirek Jasinski rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have re-read this book recently and am surprised at how true it holds a decade after it was first published.
Jun 10, 2013 S. rated it liked it
tried to resist reviewing this since I read it in '07, and then in bits and pieces, but with my review of "Big in China," figured I'd just jot down a few notes. this is a business book, contrary to the good reads entry description, but in contrast to the 70-80% of foreigners in asia who teach english, clissold was hired to get factories functioning, and so it embraces capitalism in its raw, chinese, polluting form.

not a bad work; has even a poignant moment or two towards the end as clissold refl
May 31, 2015 Max rated it really liked it
A must read for anyone who wants to do business in China. Clissold encapsulate how the system work.
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