China's Great Train: Beijing's Drive West and the Campaign to Remake Tibet
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China's Great Train: Beijing's Drive West and the Campaign to Remake Tibet

3.23 of 5 stars 3.23  ·  rating details  ·  26 ratings  ·  10 reviews
“A great yarn . . . [Lustgarten] also accomplishes something more valuable: He provides insight into the seat-of-the-pants nature of many of China’s massive schemes.”—The Washington Post Book World

When the “sky train” to Tibet opened in 2006, the Chinese government fulfilled a fifty-year plan first envisioned by Mao Zedong. As China grew into an economic power, the railwa...more
Paperback, 320 pages
Published May 12th 2009 by St. Martin's Griffin (first published May 13th 2008)
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Eveline Chao
I have a compulsive need to finish every single book that I start, and this book made that task painful. Its main shortcoming is that it's written from the get-go with a strong pro-Tibetan Independence bias that interferes with the trustworthiness of the writing. It should be perfectly possible to show your own political view on an issue without that view skewing your writing, but unfortunately, this book went into nearly comic-book levels of, like, 'and then the EVIL CHINESE came and oppressed...more
Sandra D
A disturbing look at the construction of a railway across the ecologically-fragile Tibetan Plateau, where vast areas of permafrost hover around single degree below freezing, and about China's push to bring its particular brand of economic development and industrialization to Lhasa, Tibet's traditional capital. Oh, and also to make it easier to scour the Plateau for exploitable mineral and oil and gas deposits. And to ship troops to China's disputed border with India.

Chapters about the engineerin...more
A good introduction to the issues surrounding the 'fast forward' modernizing influence of China's push to the West and assertion of sovereignty over Tibet.

The book presents--through a combination of personal experiences, reconstruction, and diverse wiewpoints of individual narratives of those involved and/or affected by the development of China's train to Tibet--a balanced story. While clearly critical of the Chinese government's motivations, aims, and means, it presents a sympathetic picture of...more
Kind of uneven - moving from a passionate political and historical description of China's interest in and governance of Tibet, and the technical building of a railroad across permafrost, 16 and 17,000 ft passes, including rail passenger cars with oxygen masks for each passenger as the train moves from lower Western China to the high Tibetan plateau.

I think the whole story of Chinese occupation and cultural genocide, as some would characterize the dynamic, or the trials of economic development is...more
I have a lot I can say on this book, as the Author discussed many of the themes I investigate in my own experiences and research pertaining to Tibet. His analysis of history, and the questions he asks about the juxtaposition of culture and progress, rights of a minority versus conformity, the role of globalization versus cultural 'authenticity'... These are all topics that fascinate me.

Above all, his underlying question of why are we (Westerners) so eager to keep Tibet in a static state? He gets...more
There is a lot of good information here, and the book provides an in-depth perspective on China's development of Tibet beyond just the train. The stories of both those who developed the railroad line and those in Tibet who were affected by it are told in detail. Lustgarten writes with an insider's view (he visited Tibet numerous times while working on the book) and his breadth of knowledge is quit full. Aside from the narrative being slow at times, this is a good read.
The story of building the railway from Qinghai to Lhasa is a fascinating story. The author's interest in showing how it negatively affected the Tibetan people is occasionally clumsy but the book is interesting.

I'm always intrigued when a writer/reporter brags about lying and sneaking into places that are illegal and then badmouths a person, group, government, etc. who he claims are less than honest. This book is a classic example of this attitude.
Sep 29, 2009 Kathy rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: own
Although Lustgarten tends to ramble a bit, he rambles into some fascinating places. I would have liked just a little more technical discussion of how they built the train over permafrost. His political, social, and historical discussions are lively and informative, and though his pro-Tibet viewpoint shows through in spots, he does a decent job of presenting all sides.
Jan 27, 2013 Judy marked it as to-read
Shelves: stopped-reading
Learning about the geography of China and how China built a railway to Tibet. Also learning about TAR (Tibetan Autonomous Region) and its history for the past 5 decades.
In bits and pieces. Could be more well-written (pseudo-journalism & a bit amatuerish) but informative.
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