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Mr. China: A Memoir
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Mr. China: A Memoir

3.91  ·  Rating details ·  1,106 ratings  ·  106 reviews
Mr. China tells the rollicking story of a young man who goes to China with the misguided notion that he will help bring the Chinese into the modern world, only to be schooled by the most resourceful and creative operators he would ever meet. Part memoir, part parable, Mr. China is one man's coming-of-age story where he learns to respect and admire the nation he sought to c ...more
Paperback, 288 pages
Published February 28th 2006 by HarperBusiness (first published January 1st 2004)
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Dec 25, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: business
I doubt I'll read a better business book this year. A cracking tale of a man trying to set up and invest in businesses in China, it reads sometimes like a drama, sometimes a soap opera, sometimes a comedy and sometimes a travelogue. It works on all these levels too. You can't help feel sorry for Clissold as he wrestles with business case situations that would be near impossible to control in the West never mind China, involving fraud, cheating, lying, shooting, rioting and cultural racism. The s ...more
Simon Kozlov
Dec 17, 2016 rated it really liked it
My new company does a lot of business with China (we're in manufacturing space), I asked what should I read to get the feeling of what's it like - this was the only recommendation so far.

Book is a memoir of an American businessman investing the first wave of Wall Street money into China in the 90s - just when China began to open up to the western world. Tim is obviously enamored with China but approaches it with the western business world view, failing and learning in the process.

First, they're
Will Tomsett
May 01, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fascinating insight into doing business in China in the 1990s - and some great insights into modern Chinese culture and history (I had never heard of the Third Front campaign, for example). The end is is poignant but slightly abrupt - I wish it’d carried on for another hundred pages or so!
Jun 17, 2014 rated it really liked it
Tim Clissold, businessman and China-aficionado aiming to strike it big in China, tells his own story of how he planned to help bring China into the modern world and at the same time make a fortune in investments in a rapidly-modernising Chinese economy. However, as he finds out is not all plain sailing; problems arise from the first day: language issues, corrupt managers, inefficient legal systems, impatient investors, poor planning, and a heart attack all challenge Clissold and yet he remains t ...more
Lifeng Wu
Mar 05, 2010 rated it really liked it
I grew up in China in the 70's. I relate to most of the experiences discussed in this book.

It's one of the most humorous English books I read about China.

I recommend it to all my friends who have some China experience.

A good narrative. A good account of China in a specific period. Author's style could have been more polished. But , well, he's an investment banker.

The author could have put in a few "success" stories. The three main stories on Madame Wu (Beijing), Chen HaiJing (HuBei), and final
Jun 10, 2013 rated it liked it
tried to resist reviewing this since I read it in '07, and then in bits and pieces, but with my review of "Big in China," figured I'd just jot down a few notes. this is a business book, contrary to the good reads entry description, but in contrast to the 70-80% of foreigners in asia who teach english, clissold was hired to get factories functioning, and so it embraces capitalism in its raw, chinese, polluting form.

not a bad work; has even a poignant moment or two towards the end as clissold refl
Kindall Palmer
Dec 01, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great read! This book touches on some of the most hidden and difficult aspects of doing business in China. From government corruption, to money laundering, to corporate drama, to innocent mistakes throughout the journey. Its interesting to watch $418,000,000 simply disappear all to be chalked up to good experience. The writing was brilliant, i felt just as stressed as the writer must have felt as he had these experiences himself! His resolutions to daily issues, insight on the Chinese culture, l ...more
Tim Mortfenkov
Aug 03, 2016 rated it really liked it
A plain story, no insights at all. Probably I've known them all?
Peter Keller
Jan 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
Solid read on doing business in China that I bought in a bookstore in the Hong Kong airport.

Not a business book- more of a memoir. Best description of Baijiu I ever read :)

My notes:

Mr. China
Tim Clissold

At the core, a deep sense of ‘Chinese-ness’ persists perhaps intensified by the recent successes; certainly, there are moments when if you push a deal too hard, this sense of nationhood may be offended and everything will be lost. Experience and study of these traditional ways of thinking can
Abid Famasya
Jul 02, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Apa yang kita ketahui tentang China? Alibaba? Xiaomi? Atau komunisme nya?
Ternyata China dibentuk dengan sejarah panjang. Mirip dengan restorasi Meiji yang membuka akses Jepang ke negara luar, siapa sangka China juga melakukan hal yang sama dengan reformasi ekonominya sejak era Mao.

Buku ini menarik, karena membuka tabir negeri ini dibalik kekuatan ekonominya. Anggapan saya selama ini yang menganggap komunisme sangat kaku dengan egaliternya ternyata salah. Tim Clissold, si penulis, membeberkan sis
Jackqueline Buenaflor
Feb 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: re
it tells a story of an entrepreneur who tried to venture into a place where the culture is completely different to the usual business practices. The book tells its readers that there is this China whose business practices is almost impenetrable. This book is a window that shows few of China's business practices. This book provides cultural aspects of china which may not have been familiar to those who hadn't had background knowledge as to how does they do business in china. Though I am not much ...more
Jul 08, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Excellent “up close and personal” account of what it was like to invest in and work in China circa the mid 1990s. The author steered clear of any sort of detailed financial accounting (or terminology) to deliver a contextual look at the Chinese culture and the challenges for American businesses trying to do business there. Some of the stories are crazy enough that you will ask if you’re reading fiction at times, but I suspect that the accounts are fairly accurate based on my own limited study of ...more
Angela Lewis
Jul 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
Eye opening account of doing business in Chinese factories. Communism has a lot to answer for - having lived in Beijing and now in Budapest, the results are not dissimilar - where everyone has work the workforce is comfortable and not concerned with production. There must be something about the shouting too. Also enjoyed the lesson on language and writing, having made some progress with study when there it is a joy to laugh again remembering some of the quirkiness. A very good read.
Erik Surewaard
Nov 27, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Entertaining read of an early mover (early nineties) in a private equity focussed on investing in Chinese private companies.

The storyline gives a good idea on how the investment targets (companies) were found. It also discusses the problems they experienced in some of the companies they invested in: without spoilers I can say that they experienced stunning situations at some of their companies.
Mike Thelen
Nov 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
I think if you do (or plan to do) business in China, this is a good read. At the time I read it, China was becoming a big portion of our business. It's written in a simple, almost novel-like, format (some may say it is a novel even).
Tacey Van Der Biezen
Jul 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
You can really feel the emotions of the writer during the book!
Dawid Vuuren
Feb 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The author has a clear love for China. As a foreigner living in China I can identify with this book.
Antonio Gonzalez
Nov 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
Love the anecdotes and stories, feel very much related with my personal experience, but it was worse back then… you couldnt even rely on the banks! ...more
Dave Calver
Oct 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
A fascinating insight into challenges faced by early investors in China.
Mar 13, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
If you have ever had business dealings in China, you might enjoy this book. The author of this memoir (but shelved in the business section of Barnes & Noble) breaks into the Chinese business market in the 1990s as a partner in a joint venture company. Tim Clissold does a great job of describing the hazards of entering into business agreements with several Chinese manufacturers. Business dealings are difficult and rife with cultural and legal difficulties. He paints a picture of a messy, comp ...more
Fraser Kinnear
May 27, 2010 rated it really liked it
I (foolishly) studied business at university, and I've read more than enough business books, but my focus was on accounting and finance, both of which very theoretical, and there was clearly a vast swathe of understanding I missed: politics and negotiation. Tim Clissold seems to have been through the worst of those two, and in a country famous for making a quagmire out of them.

The memoir is an account of Clissold's managing the biggest foreign direct investment in China in the 90's: 17 joint ve
Jan 30, 2014 rated it really liked it
Really enjoyed this book - if you've got at least a passing interest into the inner workings of large business, finance, and/or China as the rising international power of 21st century - this is worth a read. (I.E. even if you have some issues with 'Free Trade' as currently practiced, in my view it really helps to try and figure out at least what's going on). The author constructs a good narrative and writes well, has a good poetic sense. His insider perspective is fun too - he presents the work ...more
Alan Wang
Jan 18, 2016 rated it liked it
Lessons from Mr. China

China is a pragmatic business environment. Not always about following the rules, about finding the solution

Always keep the government in mind and how local govt. can pressure local businesses

In international business, there are often discrepancies in expectations from the various parties due to different cultures and business customs. Must be vigilant in adapting to and managing expectations

Don’t assume fraud, corruption, corporate red-tape, bureaucracy won’t happen to y
Sep 19, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In part of my quest to learn more about that massive economy out there I picked this book up on a whim while at my local library. I'm please to say I was not disappointed.

This book describes and details the grave differences in the Chinese business mentality and ethic from our own. It's told from the perspective of an investor representing hundreds of millions of dollars (500 million I believe) of American dollars flowing into the Chinese system. The author, and his partner are chasing after the
Julian King
Jul 04, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This is an excellent memoir of a financial adventure in China in the early 90s.

As a layman, I can't comment on the wisdom or otherwise of the various undertakings described here, nor of the way in which they were undertaken. But this cautionary tale is told with sufficient clarity and verve to ensure that even I, financial illiterate that I am, came away with a good idea of what had happened, and I immensely enjoyed the freewheeling style of Tim Clissold's telling.

The Chinese are baffling, even
Jan 27, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: business, non-fiction
A memoir of the author's time setting up joint-ventures in China's early 90s. This is very clearly a business story. There are characters (although little character development), battles (of the corporate variety), intrigue, and nefarious dealings. There is not, however, much of a plot. Briefly: the author goes to China hoping to bring investment money to the ailing factories just starting to shake off the doldrums of communism. Some joint ventures succeed. Many more have growing pains, as the C ...more
Chilly SavageMelon
May 23, 2008 rated it really liked it
A really engaging memoir about an englishman's love affair with China and trials in doing million dollar business there during the early and mid-90's. My four stars are real testament to Clissold's ability to make a possibly tedious tale relateable, because I am certainly not the type to enjoy the chronicles of business.
There was also insight shared about the chinese character and hints as to why it might be as it is I found illuminating after some mysterious moments during my own brief visit th
Kristof Verbeke
Feb 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
Astonishing account of Chinese culture and way of business dealing. Assuming most of it is true, it should be a solid start for someone looking to open up a business in China, even though much has changed in 10 years since this book was written. The Chinese culture is 5000 years old and simply will not be substituted in the blink of an eye.

Jan 25, 2015 rated it really liked it
My company owns and operates factories in China, and I myself travel there often for business. For the portion of this story that overlaps with my own experience, I can say firsthand that the author's point of view is very believable. For me, that made the rest of the story even more fascinating, since I already trusted the author's authenticity. The tales of China investments and unintended consequences are a great read. Actually, my overall view of China is very positive, and this book does no ...more
Joana Marta
Oct 17, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: china, non-fiction
I love China history and their costumes, I love to read books that explain all of these and more. This book is very different of all the others I've ever read, it's very focused in businesses in China and its growth in the early 90's, when the rest of the world is trying to reach this big economy!

Is in the middle of this that Tim founds himself, but after all of this time, a country so close and with their own costumes and values, he will discover that you can have all the money in the world, bu
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