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China Wakes: The Struggle for the Soul of a Rising Power

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3.98  ·  Rating details ·  1,443 ratings  ·  89 reviews
The definitive book on China's uneasy transformation into an economic and political superpower by two Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times reporters. An insightful and thought-provoking analysis of daily life in China, China Wakes is an exemplary work of reportage. 16 pages of photos. ...more
Paperback, 507 pages
Published August 1st 1995 by Vintage Books (first published 1994)
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Dan
Apr 16, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Now extremely dated, this text demands more scrutiny than it receives, and should be understood for what it is: a flawed and ultimately culturally-biased look at a country that Westerners (and particularly liberally-minded Westerners, I say this with no rancor towards liberalism) have difficulty understanding. This is a work of editorial journalism. It is not a work of academic rigor, and students reading it would do well to keep that fact in mind.

We must acknowledge that China has demons: vicio
...more
Ensiform
Jan 06, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, china
The authors, married Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times journalists, write about the emergence of capitalist China in the mid-1990s. Alternating authorship of the chapters, they analyze China in terms of its progress in the areas of civil rights and business in the face of government repression. The authors argue that the communist government is remarkably similar to those of past dynasties but that, given their entrepreneurial energy, Chinese people are living better now than ever before. At ...more
Erika Jost
Dec 22, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: china
This is not a good book. I don't know very much about China at all, but it was hard to trust these writers because the claims they made about the West were so off-base that I couldn't imagine that their grand and weirdly reductive claims about China were any more perceptive. This book was recommended to me by a friend and my favorite part of reading it was taking photos of insane passages and sending them to him as punishment. ...more
Hatuxka
Oct 14, 2009 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crap-history
If one works for the NYT, one is sent to China solely for the purpose of invention and demonization of an enemy of the elites for which one works.
Suzannah
Jan 15, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
This was a nice break from my usual reading matter. Although it's somewhat dated (having been written a quarter of a century ago), this book came as an excellent chaser to WILD SWANS, since it dissects post-Mao China with particular focus on the Tiananmen Square Massacre in 1989 and the aftermath in the following years. Kristof and Wudunn conclude that a) under Deng Xiaoping China moved from a totalitarian Communist state to an authoritarian fascist state; and b) while the Chinese Communist Part ...more
Jen
Nov 18, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read this book in preparation for my trip to China. It was a fascinating book! My experience in China, and the little exposure I had to its people and government, confirmed the truth of the book for me. I found the book shocking, and subsequent personal experiences shared with me have again confirmed its veracity. In the end, I am so grateful I do not live there and government policies or otherwise have significantly affected the character, compassion, and morals of the Chinese citizens themse ...more
Kayo
Jan 10, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013, china
From someone who knows very little about China, I think this book gave me a very good starting point. I believe Nick Kristof and his wife, Sheryl WuDunn, provided a relatively balanced view about China- they are both critical and yet optimistic about China. Although this book was written almost 20 years ago, I feel that it is still relevant, and a lot of the issues discussed in the book are still evident in China today. I look forward to reading about books about China and compare it to this one ...more
Mike Cognato
Sep 08, 2007 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: china
I don't know why people keep reading this book. It's out of date, not very interesting, and misses most of the big picture. All of which is amazing, since Kristof wrote some of his best stuff in China before he became a predictable and annoying NYT columnist. ...more
Dan
Aug 29, 2008 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Have you been bored and/or patronized by Kristof's self-satisfaction and preaching in the New York Times? Take that vague feeling of being insulted home with you in book form! ...more
Gaojun
Jan 23, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A book I would highly recommend for anyone following China's trajectory from its tumultuous Maoist era to the present. Simultaneously, I can't stress enough how important it is to keep in mind this book's publication date. China changes so fast many of the statistics are no longer accurate, but the stories still ring true. What surprised me most about China Wakes was how many similar conclusions I had drawn independently, or conversations I had with Chinese and other foreigners, only see reappea ...more
Eric Li
I have been always interested in reading Foreigners' works on China. As Nick has pointed out in later chapter of this book, most foreigners' opinions on this country were colossally wrong, but it was interesting to see their logics and why they came to their conclusions.

This book was published in 1994, one year before I was born. And a quarter of century has past, and China still remains on the "cautiously optimistic" track. There are still abundant problems at this point of time: SOE reform sta
...more
Grant Gallaher
Sep 12, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
A fascinating glimpse into how two American NYT journalists perceived and experienced China in the late-80s/early-90s. Despite its density, I was impressed by how accessible this book was. It is at its best when it reaches across scales, using vignettes of everyday life in China to illustrate larger political and cultural trends; it drags in later chapters when macroeconomics and global diplomacy become too abstract to be pulled back down to earth through narrative.

A few of Kristof and WuDunn's
...more
Anna
Feb 06, 2021 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Super interesting to read about China in the early 90s right after Tiananmen square. I looked up a lot of the people who were mentioned, dissidents, millionaires, politicians, etc. I liked the humility of the authors when talking about how hard it is to make predictions and the challenge of understanding each other, like in the part where they talked about Americans maybe not focusing on the violence and poverty and awful stuff done in our own country, differently evil than torturing dissidents ...more
Elizabeth
Jan 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Really interesting book written in the mid 90s about China's future. I had to keep reminding myself that the information is a quarter-century old at this point, and China has changed dramatically in the time since, but it was kind of like a moment of the country's history preserved in a time capsule. I kept googling different predictions that arose in the book to see if they ended up being true, which was fun. The authors' premise was the question of if China's communist structure was on the way ...more
Phi Beta Kappa Authors
Nicholas D. Kristof
ΦBK, Harvard College, 1981
Co-author

From the publisher: The definitive book on China's uneasy transformation into an economic and political superpower by two Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times reporters. An insightful and thought-provoking analysis of daily life in China, China Wakes is an exemplary work of reportage. 16 pages of photos.
...more
bellatuscana bellatuscana
Informative. Kind of dated. Biased too for America over China in multiple ways that are constantly reiterated through the book. Doesn't really address neoliberal-economic policies such as low-wage, poor conditioned. factory jobs, and the role America plays in it. ...more
Luke Smith
Although dated and with a somewhat lofty tone (some corruption issues are looked at as if they are unique to china) this book takes a detailed look at a nation on the rise. Easy to read, it's clear they embarked on a lofty cause which sometimes has amazing insights, and sometimes falls short. ...more
Trevor
Mar 31, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A thoroughly informative and attention grabbing look at China through the late 80s and early 90s. While it's now a couple of decades out of date, the observations, predictions and musings from the wife and husband journalist team are still eye-opening for the modern reader. ...more
Sharples
Sep 14, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was written by two very well educated journalists back in 1994 and the social concerns still remain in China. The political arena has changed over but remnants remain.. I liked the way she wrote her chapters - flowed like a story not historical non fiction with facts upon facts.
Selfisher
Nov 05, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
a real china in the other side
Carolyn Harris
I read Half the Sky by the same authors in 2010 and China Wakes has long been on my reading list. The book provides a snapshot of China and its relationship with the wider world in the 1990s, placing the status of women, economy, culture, foreign affairs and politics within a broad historical context. There are some sections of the book that are a little dated because some of the laws discussed in the book, such as the one child policy, have since changed and new issues have emerged but the subj ...more
David Litteken
Aug 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Interesting to read a book today written about China 30 years ago. Much of it still holds true. Enjoyed it immensely...only wish I would have read it when I first moved to China 8 years ago.
Steve
Dec 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Really liked it. Only wish it was more recent.
Margaret
Aug 02, 2021 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: china-love
Great intro to modern China, some chuckles too.
Siddiq Husainy
Mar 28, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
[ China Wakes ]

There's something interesting reading old books. Especially books that talk about ideologies, and the realities that happened.

This book won Pulitzer's Prize for Journalism. It was published in 1994 so the stories are not new.

However, it does not mean the occurrences and the contents are outdated.

Far from that, they played central roles in shaping and forming the China that we know today.

The important events, and figures stated in this book are as follows, as far as I can remembe
...more
Bob
Jan 26, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
I've always enjoyed the writing of Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn. Their work as a married couple writing for The New York Times as well as their individual publications, including Sheryl WuDunn's Half the Sky have challenged many of us to think more deeply about human rights, and especially, injustices toward women.

These same sensitivities are evident in this twenty year old work chronicling their years as correspondents for The New York Times in China. The book chronicles their time (1988-
...more
Dorota
Dec 11, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was an interesting account of a husband and wife team journalist experiences in China, up through 1993 - Kristof is an American writing for New York Times, and his wife is a Chinese American, giving us some interesting insights for the differences in treatment of both obvious and hidden perceptions of foreigners. The writing style of this one was a bit heavier and took much longer to digest - this one is still one I'm processing.

Written at a time where it looked to many like China's steamr
...more
Ashleigh
Sep 25, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is about a husband and wife reporters reporting in China. These two people witnessed and heard the stories of the corruption and violence that goes on in China from the higher ups and the regular people. They also learn about the history and how China came to be the country of what it is today. One of the stories the two reporters heard was a women who saw her brother die in front of her while the police didn't do anything while they could have. Also you get insight of how closely the ...more
Lori
Feb 23, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: china, 2005
This books covers a wide array of topics, including human rights, the rise of communism, changing culture, graft, successes of the communist party, the Cultural Revolution, the burgeoning economy, foreign relations, and the list goes on. In every instance where it is necessary, the authors give appropriate historical background, often displaying their impressive knowledge of the political and cultural systems of other countries in their comparisons with those of China. They conclude their collec ...more
Elise
Oct 03, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
China Wakes is a book about Nicholas Kristof and his wife, Sheryl WuDunn's time as foreign correspondents in China in the late 80s and early 90s. It is critical view of what life was like for them and those they came in contact with. This is not a proChina book and Kirstof and WuDunn do state their biases about their time overseas. Although they have a lot to say about the issues China faces and the corruption, they remain hopeful that China can become a prominent successful world leader if they ...more
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Nicholas Donabet Kristof is an American journalist, author, op-ed columnist, and a winner of two Pulitzer Prizes. He has written an op-ed column for The New York Times since November 2001 and is widely known for bringing to light human rights abuses in Asia and Africa, such as human trafficking and the Darfur conflict. He has lived on four continents, reported on six, and traveled to 150 countries ...more

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