Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Dragon's Gift: The Real Story of China in Africa” as Want to Read:
The Dragon's Gift: The Real Story of China in Africa
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Dragon's Gift: The Real Story of China in Africa

3.83  ·  Rating details ·  320 ratings  ·  30 reviews
Is China a rogue donor, as some media pundits suggest? Or is China helping the developing world pave a pathway out of poverty, as the Chinese claim? In the last few years, China's aid program has leapt out of the shadows. Media reports about huge aid packages, support for pariah regimes, regiments of Chinese labor, and the ruthless exploitation of workers and natural resou ...more
Hardcover, 397 pages
Published January 1st 2010 by Oxford University Press, USA (first published November 19th 2009)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Dragon's Gift, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Dragon's Gift

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.83  · 
Rating details
 ·  320 ratings  ·  30 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of The Dragon's Gift: The Real Story of China in Africa
☘Misericordia☘ ~ The Serendipity Aegis ~  ⚡ϟ⚡ϟ⚡⛈ ✺❂❤❣
Have you ever considered that the efforts of China may constitute a lifeline for the African nations? I, for one, never considered it in those terms! Here goes some brainfood.

Hands down 5 stars for a very fair endeavour to excercise critical thinking and to see both sides of the equation. A lot of in-depth information to muse over.

More review to follow!

The Chinese are many things in Africa: touring presidents delivering grand promises for partnership, provincial companies with very long names
Oct 06, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
An interesting book, though not one I would recommend to many. It's long and academic, so you have to be interested in the subject. I was certainly interested in the subject myself, though. China's engagement with Africa is something I have seen first hand in Malawi, Zambia, and Uganda -- and many of the myths which the author debunks are myths which I have heard here first hand.

She has a few main points about China's engagement with Africa:
1. The numbers quoted are almost always inflated, doubl
May 25, 2018 rated it did not like it
Shelves: development, asia, china
I couldn't finish it, because Brautigam's mischaracterizations of Chinese history under Mao suggest such a deep bias it suggests the book is unlikely to be accurate in any meaningful way. Not only did she cut in half the scholarly estimates of how many people died of starvation during the 'Great Leap Forward' (she gave 20 Million, when the most accurate estimate is likely to be 40 Million at least) she followed this but stating 'between these two extremes a more pragmatic road prevailed'. I am s ...more
Oct 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing
What if the Economist, IMF and European Parliament are wrong in their understanding of the situation of Chinese aid to Africa? This is written by Brautigam, an American scholar who speaks Chinese and travels to Africa frequently.

China Aid is:
1. Modelled after Japanese aid to China decades ago.
2. Much smaller than believed but shrouded in mystery
3. In the form of credits and not cash with raw materials from African countries as collateral, often to buy Chinese exports
4. Similar to Western aid w
Meihan Liu
Nov 19, 2016 rated it really liked it
A little outdated since it was written and published before 2010 and during the Hu-Wen Administration. But, wow, thank you, Ms. Brautigam, for the conclusion part.
You may have noticed recent newspaper stories hyping the billions of dollars that China is giving to Africa... all to get their natural resources. Brautigam reassures the reader that this isn't new, that it's been going on since the 1960s and that the numbers have been greatly exaggerated. She points out that Westerners decry China's record of corruption, environmental carelessness, willingness to work with dictators, and low wages. But turns out that the West hasn't been free or innocent of the ...more
Apr 12, 2014 rated it liked it
For the most part, this book accomplished what it set out to do: dispel a lot of rumors and myths. In that regard, it is insightful and worth reading. Brautigam lucidly explains how Chinese involvement in Africa is not entirely new, though its scale has increased as China has grown economically. Also, she points out that many of the lessons China learned during its own development have had a major impact on its aid and investment policies. Further, she does well to articulate the goals (mostly b ...more
Mar 05, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: africa
The People's Republic of China do a lot right in their dealing with the developing states of Africa. When investing in a country or granting aid the Chinese don't make political demands; they don't insist the recipient nation reform its economy to better pay bondholders; they stay for as long is necessary to get a project running and hand it over to the Africans, always ready to return if necessary. The Chinese build what African nations want--a railroad, a stadium, an office building for the Fo ...more
I thought this book was extremely useful in confronting the rampant rumors and misinformation about China's involvement in Africa. Most of what they are doing there is commercial investment, not aid, and their levels of investment remain much lower than those of the US, EU, etc. Furthermore, they are investing in everything, not just resource extraction, but also manufacturing, agriculture, etc. I have two critiques about the book though. 1) The first half of the book was pretty dense, and I rea ...more
Feb 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: china-africa
Outdated but, still probably the best book I have read on the topic.

As a journalist I have reported on China in Africa and as Fulbright Fellow I worked with an African government on these issues. I read all I can on this subject and though this book is a bit out-dated it still is one of the best in terms of details and use of comparisons (but, maybe not the best well-written) unlike other such books it doesn't bore me with deep dives into random characters and sticks mostly to large policy quest
Dave Pier
Aug 29, 2019 rated it liked it
Convincing in its rejection of China's being an especially bad actor in Africa, relative to Western donors/investors. Not so convincing in its celebration of China's "creative destruction" on the continent (she herself invokes the phrase.) Her overall orientation seems to be neoliberal: Africans need to learn how to be good market agents, and China can help them with this. Sure there will be some labor abuses, corruption, and environmental depletion, but this will be worth it in the end, when Af ...more
Jan 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Focused more on facts than alarmism. Perhaps tilted a little more towards China than being objective, but overall still a fairly good picture that isn't frequently presented by other literature on the topic.
Nick Harriss
This is a first rate book that puts a rather different spin on Chinese involvement in Africa than that which is normally seen, and one that appears to be based on solid research rather than rhetoric. Highly recommended for anyone with an interest in development economics or geopolitics.
John Crippen
Aug 16, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: africa
A slightly strained hybrid of reference text and travelogue, with the distraction of the author italicizing important phrases. I do hope Brautigam keeps writing about China and Africa though, I'd like to know what she thinks about the last decade.
Nov 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Good book, learned more policy and discussion government contact details than I normally would. Challenging but a pretty good sample of experiences and realities that are usually warped here in the west.
Elza Rauza
May 20, 2020 rated it it was ok
Some interesting and eye-opening info can be found but most of the time ir was boring and I could not wait to be finished with it.
Sep 12, 2020 rated it really liked it
Pretty solid book. Makes a very strong argument about Chinese aid, and the in-depth look is a breath of fresh air in the midst of all the current China-bashing going on.
Dash Williams
Interesting through out, The Dragon's Gift challenged my notion about what constitutes aid and China's engagement in Africa, which is described by Deborah Brautigam as strategic, practical, and experimental. Brautigam cautions the reader to not give you much credence to sensational headlines surrounding Chinese business in Africa. She also chides officials and journalists from The West who do not do their due diligence and are altogether too comfortable reporting hyperbole as fact. This book is ...more
I hesitate to say that I actually read this book. I barely understood what the author was talking about. Part of the problem was I was listening to it on my Kindle, and a computer voice is always more difficult to understand. But the real problem was that she wrote her book in such a dense, technical way -- so caught up in the intricacies of international finance -- that I believe I would have to take at least two college courses in international finance before I could really get the gist of her ...more
AJ Payne
Sep 26, 2010 rated it really liked it
This book gives a more optimistic view of Chinese involvement in Africa than is typically found in the West. Brautigam thinks that, for the many faults, the Chinese progam of economic investment in Africa is good - and likely even better than what the West is doing there.

I used this book for my capstone paper at school and found it very helpful.

I recommend it for a different view of China and Africa!
Sep 12, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: china
If you only read one book on the subject of China's engagement with Africa, this should be it. Brautigam does an excellent job of parsing out fact from fiction and giving readers a clear-eyed view of the reality on the ground. It could probably use an updated edition by this point, but not too badly.
Stefan Fergus
Apr 02, 2014 rated it really liked it
The book's opening chapters can feel muddled and contradictory. There is a defensive tone to more of the discussion and analysis than is necessary, which stunts both. That being said, the book also boasts a wealth of case study data and examples that is impressive (that's why it gets 4* instead of 3*).
Feb 11, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, africa, china
Only for the devoted. It is a very interesting book, but I doubt I'd ever have read the whole thing if I hadn't spent time in Africa and pondered at the Chinese involvement I saw there.
Apr 06, 2013 rated it really liked it
Excellent book that demystifies the debate surrounding China's involvement in Africa, based on sound data and decades of analysis.
Jul 17, 2013 marked it as to-read

Aug 27, 2013 rated it really liked it
A must read for any African business or government person who's country is engaging with China.

Sep 08, 2013 rated it really liked it
What a complete look at this subject. Explores every angle. Very academic book.
Prizgar Gonzales
Sep 19, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Deborah Brautigam has spent decades navigating the nook and crannies of China and Africa. This book is a cherished resource from an enlightened pro.
Well researched. Chapter 5 is especially enlightening “ ‘Chinese interventions are not tied to a lot of experts who get half or three-quarters of whatever aid is coming into the country’ an official… told me”
A balanced overview with many examples of learning from mistakes.
“This has been the pattern for most of China’s pledges: promise less, deliver more. Again this is in sharp contrast to the traditional donors…”
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • The Looting Machine: Warlords, Oligarchs, Corporations, Smugglers, and the Theft of Africa's Wealth
  • China's Second Continent: How a Million Migrants Are Building a New Empire in Africa
  • Twilight of Democracy: The Seductive Lure of Authoritarianism
  • The Hundred-Year Marathon: China's Secret Strategy to Replace America as the Global Superpower
  • Age of Ambition: Chasing Fortune, Truth, and Faith in the New China
  • Trade Wars Are Class Wars: How Rising Inequality Distorts the Global Economy and Threatens International Peace
  • The Third Revolution: Xi Jinping and the New Chinese State
  • Superpower Showdown: How the Battle Between Trump and Xi Threatens a New Cold War
  • Uncharted: How to Map the Future
  • China's Economy: What Everyone Needs to Know
  • Active Measures: The Secret History of Disinformation and Political Warfare
  • The Next Factory of the World: How Chinese Investment Is Reshaping Africa
  • From Third World to First: The Singapore Story: 1965-2000
  • Weather
  • Perestroika!: The Raucous Rebellion in Political Science
  • Everything Under the Heavens: How the Past Helps Shape China’s Push for Global Power
  • Red Flags: Why Xi's China Is in Jeopardy
  • Near Dark (Scot Harvath #19)
See similar books…
Dr. Deborah Bräutigam has been writing about the fact and fiction of China and Africa; state-building; governance and foreign aid for more than 20 years. Her most recent book, Will Africa Feed China? (Oxford University Press, 2015), sheds light on the contrast between realities, and the conventional wisdom, on Chinese agricultural investment in Africa. She is also author of The Dragon’s Gift: The ...more

News & Interviews

“Let us remember: One book, one pen, one child, and one teacher can change the world.” That’s Malala Yousafzai, Pakistani human rights...
20 likes · 5 comments