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Lost on Planet China: The Strange and True Story of One Man's Attempt to Understand the World's Most Mystifying Nation, or How He Became Comfortable E: The Strange and True Story of One Man's Attempt to Understand the World's Most Mystifying Nation, or...

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3.78  ·  Rating Details  ·  8,726 Ratings  ·  860 Reviews
Lost on Planet China: The Strange and True Story of One Man's Attempt to Understand the World's Most Mystifying Nation, or How He Became Comfortable E
Audio, 0 pages
Published January 1st 2008 by Blackstone Audiobooks
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Petar X
On this day of mourning for Charlie Hebdo's people, I was especially sad to read in this book of how the Japanese had treated the Chinese during WWII. Not just the terrible Rape of Nanking which I knew about, but worse, much worse. A world ruled by Hitler and Japan would have insupportable for almost everyone else.

"It may be pointless to try to establish which World War Two Axis aggressor, Germany or Japan, was the more brutal to the peoples it victimised. The Germans killed six million Jews and
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Ethan Cramer-Flood
Had I read this book immediately after arriving in China, I probably would have given it 3 stars or possibly even 4. Maarten Troost's humorous observations, snarky jokes, semi-informed opinions, and sarcastic ranting exactly match what any reasonably educated foreigner thinks if he or she spends a month or two here. Thus, had I picked up his book in the fall of 2009, I would have probably been doubled over in laughter on a regular basis, saying things like "It's so true!"

However, I'm no longer t
...more
Michael Kneeland
In his first two books, 'Sex Lives of Cannibals' and 'Getting Stoned with Savages', J. Maarten Troost wrote about his life living with his diplomat wife in the far reaches of the Equatorial Pacific. Strangely, these books earned Troost the moniker, “travel writer,” despite the fact they are more memoir than guidebook to traveling through those places. After all, it’s hard to imagine someone actually planning a vacation to remote islands where the U.S. government tested loads of A-bombs during th ...more
Alex
Dec 12, 2011 Alex rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
I had to re-review this book. After reading numerous other works by writers far more talented and introspective than Troost, I have to say that this book is racist, ethnocentrist, and incredibly privileged. I think I called him a "patronizing prick" in my last review and I stand by it.

Here is my disclaimer before I move onto being angry: I'm Chinese. I was born in China. Much of my extended family still resides there. I visit fairly regularly every few years and I enjoy it (MUST BE A SHOCK TO YO
...more
Ed
Sep 26, 2009 Ed rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone with an interest in Modern China
Recommended to Ed by: Tom Duff
This book was a joy to read. I've lived in Hong Kong for 17 years and have spent a lot of time in China. Even though he was there for a relatively short time, he nailed a lot of the peculiarities of Chinese culture and the Chinese people.

A good part of his writing is tongue-in-cheek, much in the style of Bill Bryson. He also is humble about his own peculiarities and frank about how they get in the way of his total enjoyment of what he is experiencing. The result creates innumerable chuckles and
...more
Clif Hostetler
May 06, 2014 Clif Hostetler rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir
Have you ever noticed that after returning from a trip that it's the miserable experiences that make the best stories? There's not much to say about the times when things were pleasant. This book is sort of a travelogue about the author's experiences traveling in China, and as told by the author, it's a journey filled with good stories. Let's just say that the experiences he recounts are much more enjoyable read about than experienced first hand.

This book is indeed entertaining to read, but the
...more
David
Dec 06, 2013 David rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to David by: Grumpus
Shelves: travel, audiobook
This is a marvelous book about one man's travels across China. I was immensely entertained by Maarten Troost's dry humor, subtle sarcasm, and understated observations. The book sort of reminds me of the travel books by Bill Bryson, but I enjoyed this one more. I listened to it as an audiobook; Simon Vance captivated me with his reading style.

Troost ostensibly visited China in order to scout out the county, to determine where he could bring his family to live for a few years. After all, China is
...more
Carol
May 30, 2014 Carol rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, travel
Wish I had read this before visiting China but enjoyed revisiting the land and people through Troost's book. Many have compared this to Bill Bryson's travel narratives and I'd agree that if you like Bryson Lost On Planet China might be for you.

Balancing his laugh out funny tales with a history of a place and people that defies time, Troost gives us an armchair picture of this country.

My kind of book. I loved it all the way home. If you're planning a trip to China or if you wish you could add th
...more
Troy Parfitt
A few weeks ago, I got a hankering for a good China read, but all related volumes on my shelf had been covered. In one of those Who-cares-about-the-cost? moments, I raced off to the bookstore thinking I'd buy either The Party by Richard McGregor or one of Peter Hessler's offerings: Oracle Bones or Country Driving. But the bookstore didn't have those books, and they couldn't be ordered, so, dejectedly, after surveying the sparse China offering, bottom-shelved in politics/history, I made my way to ...more
Bonnie
Aug 25, 2008 Bonnie rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I made it to page 150, but I kept finding myself thinking about the book that was next on my to read stack, WHILE I was reading this book. Never a good sign.

There's a lot of good information contained in this book, which I was looking for, since I don't know much at all about China. A couple examples: 1/3 of the air polution in California has actually drifted over 6,000 miles across the ocean from China. Also, the Great Wall of China is actually several shorter walls, which will all eventually
...more
Jennie
Feb 21, 2009 Jennie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Absolute RIOT!!!! After authors grueling description of Beijing's pollution, you have to ask yourself, how in the Hell did they pull off the Olympics in that cesspool?!?
Robyn
I've known about this book for awhile after reading The Sex Lives of Cannibals on the recommendation of a friend. This copy of LOPC was left in the apartment of another teacher here (I'm in Shijiazhuang, south of Beijing) so I decided to read it. Having lived in China for almost 7 months now I can appreciate just about everything Troost describes. Most of it is spot on. He has some experiences I have not had (nor wish to have) but his reactions to and attempts at situations are similar to my own ...more
Kavita Ramesh
Mar 09, 2016 Kavita Ramesh rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Troost's writing style is probably not for everyone. But I enjoyed this book because he made me feel like I was in China, seeing the country through his eyes. It's a fun, easy read, and very informative.
Melissa
This book was not at all what I expected. Having read reviews of Troost's work I had expected something funny, uplifting and definitely a great description of the areas he visited. What I got was something funny, somewhat depressing and a biased view of the areas he visited.

Having lived in the tropics for awhile Troost had already wrote books about those areas. Now, living in California, he decided a trip to China would be interesting. Packing his bags he left his kids and wife in Sacramento and
...more
Tessa
May 03, 2012 Tessa rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Disclaimer: The reason I gave this 3 stars instead of 4 is because of the author's use of a certain R-rated word, sometimes for humorous effect and sometimes not.

Other than that quibble, I really liked Lost on Planet China. Troost wanted to understand modern China and what better way to do that than to tromp through the country for a few months, alone (for the most part) and not speaking the language? Gutsy, yes. Hilarious, yes. Thought-provoking, surprisingly yes. Troost's writing style is bre
...more
Kathy
Jul 10, 2009 Kathy rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I picked this up at the airport bookstore, and I was really excited because I really enjoyed Sex Lives of Cannibals. However, I was greatly disappointed in this writing. I traveled to China for a month in 2008, and while yes, there a number of things that are culturally different, the way the author continuously 'others' the Chinese, and belittles the way of life that is more of necessity in a capitalistic authoritarian country of 1.3 (or more) billion people, than a choice. I will be surprised ...more
David
May 23, 2015 David rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Having lived in China and been a 'China Hand' and 'Foreign Expert,' this book provides a rather on-point description of the enigma that is China; and more importantly, the more time you spend there, you realize how little you really know about the ever-changing country. An excellent read if you need some China nostalgia having lived there, or just want to scratch the surface of what it is like to be a foreigner in THE oldest continuous civilization on Earth. Truly excellent.
Jan
Jun 19, 2012 Jan rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Like a tired and depressed stand up comedian not really expecting the meager audience to laugh at the oft repeated and worn zingers. Troost seriously dislikes everything and everybody he meets and experience in China. A shame as his itinerary offers the opportunity for a very varied and rich picture of both horror, hilarity and hope. He might be comfortable eating live squid, but the reader never gets comfortable with his lame western xenophobia.
William
Oct 14, 2008 William rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2008
I am still hoping that Troost recovers the form he showed in his first work, The Sex Lives of Cannibals, but I must wait longer. He does show some of the same comic, insightful flashes I have come to expect -- but he does not sustain it throughout the book. In any case, this disjointed travelogue of China does entertain enough to be recommended even if it does disappoint those who know the author is capable of better work.
Jennie
Jun 04, 2011 Jennie rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2011-50
I think this book is not for people that have actually lived in China and taken the time to learn the language and made an effort to know the people there. Sure, he was amusing at times, pointing out the obvious and poking fun at cultural differences, but I never got the sense that he had any respect for the Chinese. I just couldn't get past that.
Caris
Nov 25, 2008 Caris rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Okay. I finished this one yesterday. I don't like Troost as much as I did in Sex Lives of Cannibals. First off, I don't like that he left his family, including two small children, to go travel China for months. Book deal or no, he's likely to regret that choice. He didn't like China from the beginning, with its overcrowding and pollution - which he mentions exactly fourteen million times (I counted). I also didn't like his historical references. He gave history, but I had no idea how much was tr ...more
Mark
Apr 18, 2009 Mark rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Since traveling to China last June, I have been obsessed with all things Chinese; learning more about what I saw, as well as what I didn't. It was obvious to me from the moment my plane touched down, that here was an enormous country/people/culture that Americans know very little about. Troost's writes in an honest, gutsy narrative of his extensive travels and the cultural shock he encountered at almost every turn. My experiences were much shorter, and more positive than the author's--which may ...more
Julie
May 25, 2010 Julie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own, non-fiction
While not as humorous as his previous Pacific islander books, Troost’s bravery in tackling the massive undertaking that is China is commendable. Since the country is so large, so old and so densely populated, he had to address many more topics than his own astute observations: history, economy, politics, culture, and pollution. And he hardly scratched the surface. He reported on many of the obligatory locations and major cities, stopping in [pre-Olympic:] Beijing, Hong Kong, Shanghai, and seeing ...more
Todd Martin
Jan 30, 2012 Todd Martin rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: travel
This is the first book I’ve read by J. Maartin Troost. Although he states early on that he is not a travel writer Lost on Planet China is indeed a travelogue of a few weeks he spent traveling through China and Tibet in 2006.

Having recently returned from 2 weeks to some of the same places the author visited, I can say that his descriptions of traffic, driving habits, lines, crowding, spitting, food, pollution, cell phone use, beggars, street markets, vendors, cityscapes and other such things all
...more
Maree
Feb 02, 2012 Maree rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I thought this was an exceptionally true book about a visitor's take on China, having just gone last year myself and finding many of the same things as the author, even in my much shorter stay. The tone is chatty and informative, and I really wish I would have read this book before I had gone. Then maybe I wouldn't have been so hesitant to haggle even in the nicer shops (where I did at least catch their incorrect math in giving discount percentages). And the knowledge of the history of various e ...more
Spencer
If you're planning on going to China, don't read this book. This cynical bitch has very little constructive to say about the place, and paints it pretty negatively. Sure, some of it is due. In the spare two weeks i spent (in only one city, i add), i can confirm that traffic is crazy, people hawk huge loogies on the street, and the pollution is pretty impressive. I'm certainly not as well traveled in the country as the author, but i don't find it anywhere as nasty as he did.

I think he read a bun
...more
Alison Smith
Jan 09, 2016 Alison Smith rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Lively, no-holds barred account of travel in China in 2008. Reading it will make you immediately cancel your China travel plans. Assuming you had any, of course. Highly recommended.
John
Sep 24, 2014 John rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Reading this entire book made me extremely uncomfortable. Imagine having a travel partner who refuses to appreciate foreign culture and instead spends his entire trip complaining. The tone of this book is overwhelmingly negative, because the author spends it exaggerating anything that reinforces his preconceived notions and stereotypes. It is true that China faces pollution and overpopulation issues, but Troost prefers to be sensational instead of educational. I am glad that I read this book aft ...more
Elizabeth Dixon
Jul 18, 2008 Elizabeth Dixon rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
DEPRESSING but very very funny! China apparently is enclosed in a shroud of pollution that occasionally blows across the Pacific and adds to the smog in L.A. The Chinese people, according to Troost, "invented a lot of things, but the handkerchief is not one of them". They don't know how to stand in line, but Troost experiences little flashes of comraderie here & there. Doesn't really make me want to visit! That said, I love the way he writes -- he cracks me up.
Mitch
Dec 29, 2013 Mitch rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: travel, biographical
I have read two other books by Maarten and enjoyed them a lot, but avoided this one because of its subject. I had formed a negative opinion of China after reading another traveler's book about it. Then one day, I just happened across this at the library and, well...

Well, it's worse than I thought. Maarten gives his honest opinions (for this and his sense of humor, 4 stars) about his experiences and they too often involve aspects of China that I, and no doubt many Westerners, find either annoying
...more
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Jan Maarten Troost (known professionally as J. Maarten Troost) (born 1969 in The Netherlands) is a Dutch-American travel writer and essayist.

J. Maarten Troost is the author of The Sex Lives of Cannibals: Adrift in the Equatorial Pacific. His essays have appeared in the Atlantic Monthly, the Washington Post, and the Prague Post. He spent two years in Kiribati in the equatorial Pacific and upon his
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More about J. Maarten Troost...

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“Don't get me wrong. Sacramento is a lovely place, particularly for those with a fondness for methamphetamines. For the meth-addled, Sacramento had conveniently placed a Greyhound bus station just yards from the statehouse where Austria's finest was sworn in as governor of the great state of California.” 3 likes
“I had, of course, witnessed hundreds of people in a casino before, mindlessly dropping coins into slot machines. They don't play for money in America. It's true. The big payout is incidental to most gamblers. It's the numbness they're after. Not so in China. No one had that look of glazed stupor often found in American casinos.” 2 likes
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