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Smoke and Mirrors : An Experience of China

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3.96 of 5 stars 3.96  ·  rating details  ·  118 ratings  ·  16 reviews
In order to remain in power through this period of fundamental and far reaching transformations, the Chinese communist party must walk a tight rope, balancing and mediating the conflicting needs, desires and aspirations of its various constituencies.
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published September 2008 by Harper Collins
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Uma
A very interesting book on living in China. As a frequent traveler to Beijing, I could identify with many of the statements in the book, though I really cannot compare visiting Beijing once in three months for a week, to living there for five years.

Thank you Pallavi for the book.

I enjoyed the unbiased view of the life in Beijing and its comparison to India. I enjoyed the statement "If I was born in a middle class or above kinda family, I would prefer to be in India. If I was in a poor family,
...more
Bigsna
Eye opening account of a journalist's 5 year stay in China.
China has always seemed like a mystic unknown territory to me - and reading this book reinforced that feeling of mysticism a little more - but also allowed me to understand the country better.

Some suspicions confirmed, some dispelled and many new things to ponder on. Again having Google as an extension to the book for further reading was a big boon. Reading more on "the cultural revolution" , "mao zedong", "the naming of the 11th panche
...more
Rishi Prakash
China is an enigma for most of the Indians. Pallavi has just unraveled a small part of it by narrating her experience after staying in Beijing for 5 years.
Pallavi’s book provides a highly sensitive look at China; she is circumspect in her remarks on all that economic development has wrought there, particularly on religious rights and human rights in general, and on the rhythm of daily life as she perceived it.She constantly compares China with India, sparing neither their abject failings. Her s
...more
Christine
As a Malaysian living in China whose first (and most fluent) language is English, it is somewhat frustrating when most of the modern China expat memoirs available to me come from a Western perspective. While Peter Hessler (River Town), John Pomfret (Chinese Lessons), Michael Levy (Kosher Chinese), Rob Gifford (China Road), and Mike Meyer (The Last Days of Old Beijing) rank among my favorite authors who blend personal experience with thoughtful analysis of the country, I am always aware that, as ...more
thinkingape
With my broken English thus I write, I agree almost 100% with the writer's criticism of China's political structure and I also find it disheartening, as a Chinese that somehow some party managed to manufacture to a large extent homogeneous ideas regarding subjects such as " foreign invasion"," Tibet" etc etc. Every time I read about people lost their land to " progress" defined by the government I feel such an immense urge to push for political reform to transform China into a law governed land ...more
Venkateswaran
I am most probably not going to go too many miles beyond bangalore, but books like these make me simultaneously happy and sad. Happy that through such books a foreign country can be felt, but sad that I probably wont feel it in real time

Must read for anyone wanting to know about china, must read for anyone wanting to compare India with china ( the author does it almost on every page), must read for anyone wanting a good story
Bunnychip9
Books on China are churned out with a regularity that matches the sweatshops that churn out socks in Wenzhou. Yet Smoke And Mirrors by one of India's most respected journalists, Pallavi Aiyar was different. For starters, it offered neither a Chinese or Western perspective but an Indian one.

Having lived in China myself for almost two years, I could almost feel my thoughts merge with Pallavi's. I could see her observing China from the standpoint we Indians take while visiting China - the shedding
...more
Srinath
Book: Smoke and Mirrors by Pallavi Aiyer
"The two countries were like mirror opposites of each other. One provided roads, schools and electricity but stifled diversity, criticism and participation; the other allowed diversity, criticism and participation, yet achieved little in improving livelihoods and providing economic opportunities." (page 234)

This is probably the view that most of us Indians already have about India and China. Pallavi Aiyer's book brings home this same fact in a much nuance
...more
Arun Batra
Even though I wanted to read something on China, I was reluctant to read this book. I somehow started but got instantly hooked on it. The best thing about the book is that it is written by a mind which is very intelligent, inquisitive, fun loving and youthful, all at the same time and you will be able to feel it throughout the book...You would simply love to read this awesome piece of work explaining the most detailed and mundane things about china in such an entertaining way. And yes, do enjoy ...more
Lit Bug
It is a wonderful book, exploring not just China, but the differences between India and China, in a very objective manner... Makes me want to go to China. Not just a travelogue, or a memoir, but a commentary on politics and culture too... Very analytical, very interesting and engrossing, one of my favorite books ever....
Divya
This book describes Pallavi's stay in China for five years. It is amazing how China being our neighboring state is a would apart from ours. It broadened my horizons, truly. I enjoyed the author's style of writing which was factual without being boring and sentimental without being overly dramatic.
Jaivanth Selvakumar
Gets to the core. Greatly awakens ppl about the other face of communism and also explains how ppl are being made as machines just NOT to speak about politics in a democracy. A must read book for all Indians and Chinese.
Damon Muldavin
Book shows modern perspective of China's growth around 2003-2007, Author is Indian and so much comparisons between India and China are made which is a very insightful read. Very much enjoyed the book.

Reachmrinal
very nice book...It gives real and inside picture of China..
Rakesh
Nov 07, 2009 Rakesh is currently reading it
Amazing view of our powerful neighbour..
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