Dec 21, 09
Read in December, 2009
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 bunch of books on china and just used the trip to confirm what had already been written about mao, the cultural revolution, and how capitalism has changed everything. Good thing I didn't do that, because this is the only book i read before i went!
that said, it's not all "grim, industrial" cities with children peeing into gutters. Troost does find some redeeming qualities in China, and indeed, I find a few in his book as well. It flows well, makes you laugh in places, and makes an attempt at even-handedness.
Then again, maybe you should read this before you go to China. You can be bitterly depressed about the awfulosity Troost shows, then pleasantly surprised at is absence.
Maybe I should leave Shanghai and see if i'm totally off...