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China Shakes the World: A Titan's Rise and Troubled Future -- and the Challenge for America

3.77  ·  Rating Details ·  621 Ratings  ·  70 Reviews
“Let China sleep, for when she wakes, she will shake the world.” Napoleon’s words seem eerily prescient today, as the shock waves from China’s awakening reverberate across the globe. In China Shakes the World, the former China bureau chief of the Financial Times, James Kynge, traces these tremors from Beijing to Europe to the Midwest as China’s ravenous hunger for jobs, ra ...more
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published September 27th 2006 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (first published 2006)
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Jul 15, 2009 Guy rated it really liked it
Shelves: socsci, politics, business
Interesting, definitely. Entertaining, very. Eye-opening, in part (but if you don't know much about modern China, then probably extremely so). Profound... ah, well that's the problem. Kynge is a journalist. A good journalist who thinks about his subject and tries to go beyond the surface, but he is not an academic or, at least upon the evidence of this book, a deep thinker. As a result I was left with the feeling that I often have after reading articles in the Economist or the Atlantic Monthly o ...more
Eveline Chao
Feb 04, 2008 Eveline Chao rated it really liked it
Really, really, really great, lively book with lots of engaging anecdotes and real-life examples to make all his points fun to read. It pulled a lot of sort of fragmented knowledge I had about business and economic issues in China into a more comprehensive picture. In particular there's this one section where he talks about the paradox of China trying to be communist & capitalist at the same time, and I found the way he explained it to be a really useful way of looking at the situation. I sh ...more
Susan Rumsey
I am not normally interested in reading business books but decided to buy this as it looked fairly short, easy to read, and I needed to understand more about what all the "China-phobia" was all about at that stage of my life. I was not disappointed: after James Kynge's first four pages I was hooked. I confess that I read only about two thirds of the book, but it was enough to understand the Western paranoia that is so rife about China.
Anil Swarup
May 13, 2013 Anil Swarup rated it really liked it
What a realistically amazing analyses of what is right and what is not so right in China and the lessons it holds for the future. A must-read for those that are interested in China and its quest to become a super power.
Richard Burger
Feb 23, 2012 Richard Burger rated it it was amazing
When I first came back to China in January 2007, I was talking with my office director about books on China, and he told me, "The best book on modern China has to be China Shakes the World. Get a copy as soon as you can." He gave a copy to our company president in New York, who promptly bought 100 copies to give to clients interested in dong business in China. Essential reading has a whole new definition.

My manager was right. This book is unsurpassed in terms of exploring and analyzing just how
Feb 08, 2010 Matthew rated it really liked it
This review will probably say more about the reviewer (me) than about the book (most reviews probably do, if less blatantly). I felt compelled, disgusted, proud, in turn, yet in ways that are interesting if perhaps not quite unexpected -- rather, I feel like Kynge's writing so neatly synthesizes and brings to life a lot of what I already subsconsciously gleaned about China from years of living in Singapore (that red dot some mistake as part of China), that I find myself reacting in vaguely famil ...more
Oct 09, 2016 Knut rated it really liked it
Shelves: china
great read on the impact of the Chinese rise on Western, in particular US manufacturing industry. probably in the light of the AI revolution a bit outdated, but still very readable and throbbing with interesting details collected by a brilliant investigative journalist.
“Let China sleep, for when she wakes, she will shake the world.” Napoleon’s famous words of a bygone age seem eerily fulfilled or have all but come to fruition in the last few years. James Kynge employs his experiences as a former bureau chief and journalist in Asia for various news outlets over several years to support his theories. The idea is that when China arrives at the point of becoming a global super power or at least a force to be reckoned with that it its presence will penetrate to th ...more
Jul 09, 2010 Mary rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: china
I'm afraid that I find this book a little hard to measure, as I am unused to reading anything written about China from an external perspective. While an alternative view is, of course, necessary, I cannot help but feel that there are very few people qualified to write about China. To write about China is to understand an incredibly complex country and its people.

James Kynge definitely makes an admirable effort, but the tone of the books is, at times, skewed and has a tendency to veer from ration
Marci Miller
Apr 05, 2014 Marci Miller rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: business
The book, published in 2006, tells the story of China's rise in the previous two decades, eventually becoming a world superpower. I read the book in 2014, and although 8 years after its publication, it's still very relevant to understand the transformation China went through in the last decades of the XX century and first few years of the XXI century. Hindsight only makes this book even more current and fascinating.

The author is a British journalist that has lived in or around China for many yea
Sep 15, 2009 Andrew rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
China's geopolitical role fascinates me. Westerners continually clamoring to explain China's geopolitical role fascinate me even more. I reviewed Friedman and Mandelbaum's handwringing about China last year, spent some time on the Taiwan strait in 2011, read Karabel's plug for FDI in China in 2010, and Zakaria's blah vanilla discussion about a post-American world in 2009. I don't know what is so appealing about this sub-genre of nonfiction political analysis--perhaps it is the sheer scale of the ...more
Henk-Jan van der Klis
Jan 20, 2012 Henk-Jan van der Klis rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: economics, china
James Kynge werkte ruim 19 jaar in Azië voor de Financial Times, waarvan hij in totaal 12 jaar in China woonde en werkte, voordat hij zijn impressies en visie op China in het boek China zet de wereld op z'n kop verwoordde.[return][return]De onstuimige economische groei van de laatste decennia, de verstedelijking en de invloed van China op gevestigde en verouderende industrieën in het westen spreken tot de verbeelding, maar roepen ook vragen op. Hoe speelt het land het klaar om - hoewel afscheid ...more
Oct 22, 2009 Sidra rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If you are interested in China and it's inner workings, or why it has becomes the world industrial zone, and what this means for America's future (since our country now owes them a lot of money!), then this is a great read. The author is a British journalist who has lived in China since studying at Beijing University in the 1980's, so he has seen how China has gone from 19th century to the 21st century in less than 30 years. I loved the whole book, but a part at the end reminded me of living in ...more
Todd Stockslager
Jun 08, 2015 Todd Stockslager rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
Kynge recounts the rise of China as an economic and resource-sucking giant on the world scene in the last 20 years. The story, as usual with China and its 1.3 billion people, hinges on the massive markets and demand that even fractions of that enormity can generate.

The good news is that the shift of manufacturing to China, with its extremely (and artificially, Kynge points out) low production costs, has resulted in a flood of cheaper goods in the US and Europe, and that China has been buying bil
Nov 19, 2011 Robert rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anybody interested in current events and economics
Recommended to Robert by: Frank Mullen
I'm giving this three stars because I liked it, not because I didn't think it deserved more. I'm a fiction reader, and I did fid this a bit dry at times. On the other hand, it really did clarify the current position of China in the world. It showed how the economic imperatives that confront China drive their rising military expenditures, their flagrant theft of intellectual property, and their enormous annual need for growth and jobs drives China's agenda. The author details the historical conte ...more
Mike S
Nov 17, 2007 Mike S rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anyone interested in recent developments in China
Shelves: non-fiction
Written by the former China bureau chief of the Financial Times, this book is filled with well researched information. It talks about the recent history of China, including its incredible pace of development, extremely serious environmental problems, how a significant percentage of its economy is underground and how pervasive corruption is, and why China can be so competitive in so many markets.

This book will help you understand how important oil is becoming, and I am more concerned about the f
Jul 24, 2011 kacie rated it it was amazing
Shelves: china
I really liked this one. Sure, Kynge is a journalist, not an academic, so this book may be more along the lines of something written by Peter Hessler -- they both have lived and reported in China, and both communicate well enough in Chinese to be able to have amazing experiences and conversations with all kinds of different people.

I liked this book because Kynge included a little of everything: reports from within China and around the world, a wide range of anecdotes, historical facts, forecast
Aug 09, 2008 Erin rated it really liked it
I learned a lot from this book, though I am not certain whether that is due to its inherent informational powers, or to my total blank slate of ignorance about the topic. On the one hand, reading this has fostered my sympathy towards Chinese workers -- a minimum wage job at McDonalds is a pretty sweet deal compared to what those guys have to put up with on an 18-hour-a-day-7-day-a-week basis. On the other hand, I also have a deeper understanding of why European and American companies are outsour ...more
May 08, 2008 Ben rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: David, Steve, Matt
Recommended to Ben by: Felix
Shelves: non-fiction
This is a cursory look at the current state of China, it's relationship to the rest of the world, and the problems and opportunities provided by it's emergence. The book provides information about a wide range of topics, and so is good for someone who isn't an expert.

The author uses a good mix of anecdotes and larger examinations of China. It helps a great deal that the author has lived in China for over twenty years, and speaks Chinese, allowing him to both understand the situation better than
Oct 29, 2007 Jenny rated it it was amazing
This book offers an excellent introduction to present-day China. Kynge provides enough historical background to give the current economic, environmental, and political situations context, but not so much as to bog the reader down. The personal narratives and company histories make the bigger picture more understandable and interesting. Many of the issues raised in the last chapter, including Taiwan and Darfur, could have received even more coverage--but don't let that stop you from reading the b ...more
Phillip Rhoades
A book that combines both history, economic and social, and anecdotes from the author's years spent in China. James Kynge writes well and his knowledge of the country is both impressive and diverse. Despite this fact, for nebulous reasons I am having difficulty articulating, this book wasn't as satisfying as I was expecting. While the author's style is consistent, I found my interest wavering from one chapter to another, and struggling to find the interest to finish the book (though I did in 4 d ...more
Sue Lyle
Oct 21, 2013 Sue Lyle rated it it was amazing
I think anyone interested in what is happening politically, economically and environmentally should read this book. Written by a journalist so very accessible, but also he is an academic so the book is well researched and supported with extensive referencing. Very well written and illustrated throughout with the stories of ordinary and not so ordinary Chinese people. Kynge studied in china, speaks fluent mandarin and has been a journalist there for thirty years. Definitely a knowledgeable voice.
Jul 18, 2009 Matthew rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Since living in Beijing (2003-05), I've become obsessed with China. I read everything I can get my hands on. The strange thing about James Kynge's book, is that it neatly chimes with many of my observations and feeling about about China's rise. His style is anecdotal yet informative. It's easy to read, carefully researched, gently opinionated, and illuminating. A highly recommended introduction to anyone who wants to understand the impact of China's rise more fully.
Aug 23, 2008 Kay rated it liked it
The man at Metro Books who's a real reader recommended this to me--said he couldn't put it down. Well, I have found it easy to put down and am only about halfway through......hmmmm. It is worth reading, though. His paean to the Three Gorges Dam was interesting to read before I went to see "Up the Yangtze" which was a film that was packed here in Anchorage, though I cannot figure out why. Anyhow, I was glad to see it and get two sides to the Three Gorges story.
Apr 24, 2011 k rated it it was ok
An interesting book, terrible cover aside. The writing is great, it was surprisingly hard to put down, and it made a few clever points, but the overall picture wasn’t especially groundbreaking. A few of the chapters also meandered away from the point; the chapter on China’s lack of social cohesion somehow ended up talking about a case study of entrepreneurial success and advances in education policy. Still, worth a read.
Mar 24, 2008 ben rated it liked it
This book freaked me out. China is going to be a huge, huge problem for a lot of reasons.

The anecdotes were poignant and well chosen but I felt like a lot of the chapters were pretty inconclusive and could have gone into a lot more depth. Maybe this book is more for CEOs than academics though.

It's like Thomas Friedman but a lot less optimistic.
Josh Stewart
Feb 08, 2010 Josh Stewart rated it really liked it
sounds like another cheesy business book, and in some ways it is, but it's wonderfully written and all i had to do was read the first chapter and i was hooked. don't want to ruin it but a chinese steel company buys a germany factory, takes it apart, ships it, and rebuilds it one bolt at a time. as my dad says 'many hands make light work' which is good for china.
Mar 24, 2013 Tim rated it it was amazing
Pretty balanced book. First half shows growth and promise while the second examines challenges for China. The opening about China's purchase of a German steel mill (literally ripping it out of the ground had me hooked on the unorthodox measures taken by nations to modernize
James Mak
The most interesting parts of this book are the personal account Kynge recorded in order to document China's rise in economic power and international status. His analyses are a tad cliche though. Recommended.
Oct 13, 2008 Marc rated it really liked it
Very well balanced analysis of the economic past, present and future of China. Discusses both impacts of China on the world and the world's impacts on China. "Can this level of growth be sustained?" is the main question.
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As a journalist for over two decades in Asia, James covered several of the events that have helped shape the region, reporting from China, Taiwan, Japan, Mongolia, former Soviet Central Asia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and other locations.
More about James Kynge...

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