Martac's Reviews > Riding the Iron Rooster: By Train Through China

Riding the Iron Rooster by Paul Theroux
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's review
Aug 28, 09

Read in July, 2009

** spoiler alert ** An interesting glimpse into China in the '80s, and a funny portrait of the people Theroux runs into along the way. He avoids large generalizations as many travel writings fall into, but he still characterizes parts of the Chinese in ways that I find myself nodding to. For instance--he poses the idea that the way Chinese people travel--hurrying into a tourist site, inevitably labelled with a certain number of stars, taking pictures, and rushing out--is comfortable and good for an autocratic government. Theroux, meanwhile, wanders at travel sites, asks questions, and these things might not be so happy for the government (today, too, I would say).

The final chapter about Tibet is a little sad as his views of what will come (military occupation and tourism from Westerners and Han Chinese) have come. His insight into Xinjiang also has an eerie ring to what is currently happening there.

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