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Beijing Welcomes You: Unveiling the Capital City of the Future
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Beijing Welcomes You: Unveiling the Capital City of the Future

3.1 of 5 stars 3.10  ·  rating details  ·  220 ratings  ·  35 reviews
A definitive, and highly entertaining, account of contemporary Beijing, the undisputed capital of the twenty-first century.
Within the past decade, Beijing has debuted as the defining city of the now and foreseeable future, and China as the ascendant global power. Beijing is the ultimate representation of China's political and cultural capital, of its might-and threat. Fo
ebook, 384 pages
Published August 1st 2011 by Riverhead Books
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Linda Lombardi
I have read way too many nonfiction books lately that purport to be about a topic, but are really about the author and their experiences writing a book on the subject. The majority of these authors vastly overestimate the inherent interest of their process, and the person who wanted to read a book about the actual topic comes away sorely disappointed. I am totally bewildered by this trend and honestly can't figure out how some of these books got published.

This book is written by a guy who is liv
I honestly wish I liked Beijing Welcomes You more than I actually did. I picked it up thinking it was largely about changes to the city and its culture and government during the run-up to the 2008 Olympics. I didn't realize just how much detail Tom Scocca writes about each sporting event, both during the Games and at the smaller match-ups before the Olympics. I'm not interested in sports, whether its the four page GO GRIZ! section in my local fishwrap or an otherwise interesting first-person ana ...more
The tagline is a little misleading- this isn't really a look inside China or at China's place in the world so much as it is a travelogue and a bit of sports writing and maybe a little memoir thrown in. Don't get me wrong, though, it is good at all of those things. Scocca's observations are sharp and witty, and his street-scene descriptions are evocative. However, I frequently wished for a little more political insight or background- I got the feeling that Scocca was content to hint at hypocrisie ...more
Rich Saskal
As the author says in the acknowledgements, this is a 'work of reported nonfiction' about his experiences in Beijing before, during and after the 2008 Olympics. It doesn't really deliver much in the way of insight.
It is purely a sequence of events in the author's life, described, but not really analyzed -- not even the experience of his young child developing asthma in Beijing's polluted atmosphere. A little more reflection would have gone a long way.
I'd rather have read some of the individual
If you're looking for an insight into the life of a foreigner in Beijing, you could do much better than Tom Scocca's book. As someone living in Beijing for the past 2 and a half years, Tom Scocca is the kind of expat that most people don't like. Hiring live-in servants (who he refers to as "the help", in typical arrogant westerner fashion), drivers, interpreters, going to expensive expat doctors to get Western medicines.

I can't say I wouldn't live that way if I could, but it's far from the typic
There are plenty of interesting/funny/horrifying moments in Slate writer Tom Scocca's moment-in-time portrait of Beijing, and that moment in time, the two years leading up to and including the city's hosting of the 2008 Olympic Games, is an instructive one, as China went through an insane construction boom and massive clean-up in a somewhat desperate attempt to prove to the planet that it deserves the title of the 21st Century's World Capital. It's interesting in the ways the culture and the pol ...more
Jenny Brown
I really wish Goodreads let us use half stars so I could have given this book the 2.5 stars it deserved.

It wasn't dreadful book, but it wasn't very good either, probably because the author's lack of language skills kept him from being able to give any more than a standard tourist's eye view of the city he lived in on and off during the year before the 2008 Olympics.

A talented travel writer can overcome this limitation. But Scocca isn't an astute observer nor does he have the kind of engrossing
The problem of this book is, I think, one of marketing. It looks like it will be a general book about what it's like in Beijing, now and perhaps in the future. "Unveiling the Capital City of the Future," it says! But really, it's about the run-up to the Beijing Olympics in 2008. And that's fine! It's an interesting story! The constant shape-shifting of the city, the ruthlessness with which a total government of this sort can raze and build and raze and build again, with no regard for the citizen ...more
John Defrog
A book that’s supposed to be about Beijing’s transformation for the 2008 Olympics, but is more about Scocca and his family living in Beijing as expats during that transformation time. Scocca does cover the build-up to the Games first hand, from the construction of the venue and urban renewal plans to Beijing’s anti-pollution measures and weather control schemes. But he spends too much time talking about what it’s like to live as an expat in Beijing when all this is going on, how hard it is, and ...more
A play-by-play account of the author's time in Beijing leading up to the 2008 Olympics. The book is surprisingly domestic for a travel tale, with much attention to events on TV and interaction with the housekeeper. Perhaps its the language barrier which prevents the author from enlarging his view beyond the close confines of the expat community, English classes, and Olympics press events. He notes carefully the pop stars at the Olympics promotions, and the inconveniences of the bureaucracy attem ...more
Jan 02, 2015 Afrijewel rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Inquiring minds
Recommended to Afrijewel by: I found this whilst at Roslindale Village Market via BPL
This book was poorly written. Nonetheless, it was very very informative. Understanding through the writing of someone else what China was before the Beijing Olympics and what it was trying to live up to and become...albeit short cuts and all, not thinking of how the earth will suffer and continues to suffer as a result of China's carelessness.
Andrea Marley
Based on the cover, I originally thought this would be a book about consumerism and how China is taking over the world.

Turns out, it's a kind of adorable story about the author and his wife living in Beijing while it transforms into an Olympic host city. They even have a kid along the way.

Let me back-track a little. My obsession with Asian popular culture forced this book into my bag at the library. I don't think if I knew it would be about the Olympics, I would have picked it. But, the writing
mis fit
This is not an amazing book, and it does get a bit repetitive with descriptions of construction and sports. It was interesting though for someone who knows very little about Beijing (me) and has some interest in the social impacts if the Olympics. Makes me want to read more about China for sure...
Tom Buske
An often insightful, sometimes funny look at Beijing before, during and after the 2008 Olympic Games. The book suffers from not having any pictures because some of the architecture created for the Olympic Games was spectacular. By reading with my phone nearby and googling interesting sounding buildings, it added a lot to the book.
Feb 26, 2012 Ricardo rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Travelers
Recommended to Ricardo by: Dick Oswald
I was a little disappointed when reading this book. I thought it would be more about economic and social changes in Beijing, not so much a personal account of events happening in Beijing in the years prior to the Olympic Games in 2008. The narration becomes tedious at times. I think there is too much unnecessary detail in many parts of the book. I have to say that there are some chapters that are really funny, especially the one when the author tries to obtain a driver's license and the ordeal h ...more
I wish I had more to say about this book, but it was your basic "American goes to Beijing" story, wrapped around the idea and execution of the Beijing Olympics. It got a week bit slow at the end, too.
This was pretty great. I love Tom Scoca's writing, I think he's really terrific, sharp and critical without being cruel, and I love writing about ex-pat life, so this would've had to have been really awful for me to hate it. But it's not! It's delightful.

Of course there's a great deal to giggle about, all the Engrish and the bureaucratic obfuscation, but it's a vivid portrait of Beijing a little before, during, and just after the Olympics, and his meditations on China and the U.S.'s relationship
What promised to be an interesting book about Beijing before the Olympics in 2008 and during it fell flat for me after sloughing through 100 pages. Tom Scocca arrived in 2004 (his wife had gone ahead of him) eager to experience a new life by learning how to get around, dealing with their residence, watching both destruction and construction,trying to conquer Mandarin so he could attempt to talk to the people, figuring out the rules and regulations...
I found the above mentioned to be more interes
Scocca provides a good description of Beijing in its run up to the 2008 Olympic games. The book is half memoir/half reportage, and he has a number of worthwhile insights and nice turns of phrase. But the book is not reaching for any grand analysis of where Beijing is headed, as implied by the subtitle. And I found my attention wandering toward the end, especially during some of the overly detailed descriptions of the games themselves. If you want one book on Beijing, I would recommend Last Days ...more
Ben Sweezy
Certainly not any of the claims in its subtitle ("definitive guide to Beijing...truly the capital of the 21st century"), this book is still a good set of personal anecdotes from 2007-2008. The author does a good job of commenting about the pace of changes going on around him as he observes Beijing's transformation for the 2008 Olympics.

This book was mostly valuable to me because it talks about sections of pavement and neighborhoods that I was seeing in real life at the same time. That was pretty
Incredibly detailed and textured, like reading someone's journal, if that someone was an American expat in China with an Olympics fetish. In the end, this is the story of a place and time, not so much of people. That sort of story is difficult to tell. More context--was Tom Scocca doing anything but tracking the Olympics at the time?--more characters, might have made this more satisfying. Still worth reading but near collapse under the weight of its own details.
At times insightful, at times a bit quotidian (mundane daily). Still, it helped me understand the frighteningly fast-paced changes happening in Beijing and China - and prepared me for my visit to the erstwhile "Middle Kingdom", which my maternal family ruled as the Qing (Ching) Dynasty since 1644 AD. And, now I know I made the right decision regarding the schools of choice for my children :-)
Randy Conatser
The author relates his experience in living in Beijing in the years up to and during the 2008 Olympics. The story not only shows how China prepared for the world spectacle but gives the reader a gllimps of how Beijing is an ever changing city; not only physically but ideologically as it struggles with its blend on Communist Capitalism. A very interesting and entertaining book.
Stephanie Sun
Tom Scocca vs. The Nice Police:

On Smarm

"Snark is often conflated with cynicism, which is a troublesome misreading. Snark may speak in cynical terms about a cynical world, but it is not cynicism itself. It is a theory of cynicism. The practice of cynicism is smarm."

I've read it three times already!
Holly Bik
Easy read about the development in Beijing during the run-up to the 2008 Olympics, written from a Westerner's perspective. The book stays fairly observational and doesn't give much in-depth commentary...having been to China the information the author presented wasn't all that surprising, but at least the narrative kept me fairly entertained.
The book has an intriguing setup: expat's-eye view of Beijing and China as it prepares to host the 2008 Olympics, watching the city's makeover, noticing what changes and what stays the same. But it feels like the author never fully delivers on the book's potential as we go along for a pretty slow wander with Scocca. 2.5 stars.
Quite an eye opener in many ways, I read this book out of a curiosity mixed with relish towards China as well the Beijing Olympics. All I wish was that the author had been braver-yes, to use a plain word. But quite an incredible narration of the fascinating Chinese (growth) story!
While the premise offered by the author promises to be unique the book lacks coherence. Perhaps the atmosphere of the the pre Beijing Olympics are accurately conveyed, but I was hoping for something with a bit more form and purpose.
Abandoned at around the 30% mark. Like other readers, I think I thought this was going to be about's much more about Beijing in the context of the 2008 Olympics, and I'm just not interested.
When not watching the Olympics, I loved reading about it. A good book about the significance of the 2008 Olympics to China and the types of preparations they made in the lead up to the games.
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