Customer Reviews for

Lost on Planet China: One Man's Attempt to Understand the World's Most Mystifying Nation

Average Rating 3.5
( 63 )
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Most Helpful Favorable Review

1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

Highly recommended

If you are headed to China you must read this book first. Then you won't be completely blind when you land. After reading the book and then traveling in China it made my China exper5ience much more interesting.

posted by timebandit8 on November 2, 2011

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Most Helpful Critical Review

3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

surprisingly accurate and often funny too

I was a Chinese language and history major. I lived in China from 1992 to 2002 and have had the pleasure of traveling all over the PRC. When this air force intelligence officer I go to church with (he was also a Chinese language major) gave me this book to read, I figur...
I was a Chinese language and history major. I lived in China from 1992 to 2002 and have had the pleasure of traveling all over the PRC. When this air force intelligence officer I go to church with (he was also a Chinese language major) gave me this book to read, I figured what the heck. When the author gets to Beijing, a China hand named Dan helps him out with things. I was wondering if this China hand could be the Dan I used to work with back in Guangdong in the mid to late 90s. Sure enough, last night around 1 am, I had just finished the book (bad ending) and was reading the acknowledgments and read the name "Dan Friedman" who was the guy I used to work with. That made me smile at how small this world is getting. The author points out that if he'd been in his 20s with lungs of steel, that China (Shanghai in particular) would be a pretty hip place to live, and he's right. I was a young cowboy and had no problems dealing with China head on. There is no doubt about it. China is racing, and only those who want and can run very fast will enjoy it. If you enjoy peace, tranquility, cleanliness, modesty, honesty, you should stay out of China. I have not read any other works by Mr. Troost, but his reaction to China is the reaction of a normal person traveling around the country. To the negative comments here, I would point out that this is a guy that lived in the South Pacific for many years, not exactly great breeding gound for snobby arrogant ugly americans. The book is accurate. There is more to China than what's in the book, but the book isn't wrong about anything either. It's clear the book had to be wrapped up as the author offers no brilliant conclusions, but there's really nothing brilliant anyone can say either. China is working very hard to be the largest economy in the world. All other priorities in China are secondary. After 10 years of crappy air, I decided that I had had enough. I now live in Hawaii, perfect weather, perfect air, and I appreciate it! I go to China every once in awhile. If you are planning a first trip to China, do 3 days in Shanghai, 3 in Beijing and 3 in Chengdu, then go to Xinjiang and spend 10 days wandering around Urumqi, Kashgar and Hotan. Take trains, ferries, overnight buses are a hoot. Eat hotpot everywhere. Have fun, travel broadly, be happy, don't get ripped off, be safe. aloha.

posted by TexanJF on January 12, 2011

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  • Posted January 12, 2011

    surprisingly accurate and often funny too

    I was a Chinese language and history major. I lived in China from 1992 to 2002 and have had the pleasure of traveling all over the PRC. When this air force intelligence officer I go to church with (he was also a Chinese language major) gave me this book to read, I figured what the heck. When the author gets to Beijing, a China hand named Dan helps him out with things. I was wondering if this China hand could be the Dan I used to work with back in Guangdong in the mid to late 90s. Sure enough, last night around 1 am, I had just finished the book (bad ending) and was reading the acknowledgments and read the name "Dan Friedman" who was the guy I used to work with. That made me smile at how small this world is getting. The author points out that if he'd been in his 20s with lungs of steel, that China (Shanghai in particular) would be a pretty hip place to live, and he's right. I was a young cowboy and had no problems dealing with China head on. There is no doubt about it. China is racing, and only those who want and can run very fast will enjoy it. If you enjoy peace, tranquility, cleanliness, modesty, honesty, you should stay out of China. I have not read any other works by Mr. Troost, but his reaction to China is the reaction of a normal person traveling around the country. To the negative comments here, I would point out that this is a guy that lived in the South Pacific for many years, not exactly great breeding gound for snobby arrogant ugly americans. The book is accurate. There is more to China than what's in the book, but the book isn't wrong about anything either. It's clear the book had to be wrapped up as the author offers no brilliant conclusions, but there's really nothing brilliant anyone can say either. China is working very hard to be the largest economy in the world. All other priorities in China are secondary. After 10 years of crappy air, I decided that I had had enough. I now live in Hawaii, perfect weather, perfect air, and I appreciate it! I go to China every once in awhile. If you are planning a first trip to China, do 3 days in Shanghai, 3 in Beijing and 3 in Chengdu, then go to Xinjiang and spend 10 days wandering around Urumqi, Kashgar and Hotan. Take trains, ferries, overnight buses are a hoot. Eat hotpot everywhere. Have fun, travel broadly, be happy, don't get ripped off, be safe. aloha.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted June 7, 2013

    A well researched first hand account of China

    The smog, the traffic, the crowded way of life was hard to imagine. The author painted a very good picture of this country's inability to cope. I couldn't imagine taking a family to live in China after reading this book. There appeared to be no way to escape the pollution and lack of sensitivity of China's rulers. In my opinion they care mainly about making money and not about the quality of life of its people. Thanks Mr. Troost. This was a well written account. I felt that I was travelling with you.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 16, 2012

    I loved this book as much as Troost's others! I have picked out

    I loved this book as much as Troost's others! I have picked out passages to read to my AP Environmental Science students and recommended it to several people. His humor is reminiscent of "Last Chance to See" by Douglas Adams and anything by Bill Bryson.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 20, 2011

    Where is the Continuity?

    50 pages in, I decided I couldn't take it anymore. I find Troost to be an interesting author, but his insights are way off base from the standpoint of technical analysis. He may whole heartedly feel that China is the next "new thing", but lets see who else agrees with that statement when The Chinese people refuse to stop working for mere pennies a day and the world's largest economy falls apart.

    1 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 2, 2011

    Highly recommended

    If you are headed to China you must read this book first. Then you won't be completely blind when you land. After reading the book and then traveling in China it made my China exper5ience much more interesting.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 10, 2011

    Could have been good

    Having been to China ten times, including many places Mr. Troost visited, I can relate to and agree with some of what Mr. Troost wrote about. The way he told of his experiences was some of the time detailed and funny. There were two exceptions that prevent me from recommending this book to many of my colleagues who are doing business in China. The first was Mr. Troost's penchant for using the f-word. I can understand it when he was getting hit by a Chinese man, but most of the time it was unnecessary ("I'm in f-ing North Korea.") If writing the f-word is all it takes to be an author, then I could have written many books. Mr. Troost needs to be more creative than just plugging in the f-word. The other thing that is most annoying is Mr. Troost's childish liberal bashing of America and President Bush. Mr. Troost calls President Bush a "psycho-path". Why is that in a book about his travels to China? I'm surprised he didn't blame President Bush for the pollution in China. Grow up Mr. Troost! So Mr. Troost's frequent use of the f-word and his pathetic liberal crap prevent this from being a good book and being recommended.

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 5, 2008

    Very disappointing!

    I was very disappointed by the book. I was so annoyed by the author¿s arrogance and cynicism that several times I was about to quit. The only reason I did not was that I was traveling and did not have other choices (like the author was stuck with Angels and Demons). There was almost nothing about China¿s magnificent and extremely interesting history, many many repetitions that China was bad, the Chinese were strange (bad), communists were monsters and so on and on and on. Very disappointing! I would not recommend it if you want to learn something (anything) about China.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 22, 2008

    China...Good & Bad

    I have to agree and disagree with the other reviewer here. I LOVED Troost's first two books, especially The Sex Lives of Cannibals, and as someone who reads everything and passes it on, these books share a spot on the 'Keeper' bookshelf in my home. As for the first reviewer, I feel I have something to say to him/her? HAVE YOU EVER BEEN TO CHINA??????? Well, I have and Troost. sometimes sadly, has it spot on. It is hard not to be cynical in this country of controversy and severe contrasts. We went to China to rescue 'yes, rescue' our 3 yr old handicapped daughter from a life of certain despair and poverty. The air was horrifying, the contrast between the 'haves' and the have-nots' made this pacifist liberal democrat fume. We traveled to Wuhan, a city that Mr. Troost wisely stayed away from and we were appalled. This being said, I saw awe-inspiring beauty, kind and generous people and history that is so ancient that it goes beyond belief. So was Mr. Troost cynical? Yes, but unlike his bumbling, hilarious adventures in the South Pacific, the subject matter lends itself to cynicism. My one recommendation to Mr. Troost, I know you wanted to travel authentically, but a really good guide/interpretor in the Han sections of China would have been a wise investment. Keep traveling, keep writing, I'll keep reading. This book also goes on my 'keep' shelf'

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 15, 2008

    Lost the touch

    Cynicism and a sense of judgement, both refreshingly absent from Troost's earlier work, permeate this downer of a travellogue. Much like the Tibetan taxi driver Troost quotes, 'China bad' is repeated ad nauseum. We all have to grow up some time, but the youthful exuberance that made 'Sex Lives' and 'Getting Stoned' so much fun is missing, leaving a grumpy forty year old 's bitter musings in its stead Hell, if I want to read that, I'll just read my own blog...Very disappointing.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 21, 2014

    living doctor pen name,

    living doctor pen name,

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 1, 2013

    A travel book so good I'm sending copies to my friends.  It's al

    A travel book so good I'm sending copies to my friends.  It's also the best resource I've found on the rapidly changing giant that is 21st Century China.

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  • Posted September 26, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Entertaining read

    Good points descriptions of less well known places in China; such as Tibet and Wesyern China. Less liked: continuousfocus on only the negative aspects of Chinese culture. Then there Tourette type rants against George W Bush that had nothing to do with China

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 7, 2011

    LOVE THIS BOOK!!

    I have read all of J Maarten Troost's books. This one is just as good!

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  • Posted March 18, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Better than expected!

    I purchased this book on a whim, for the simple reasons that it was on sale and it seemed interesting, judging by the cover. I'm so glad I did! It gives a no-frills honest look at modern China from the eyes of a Westerner. This book had me laughing on nearly every page.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 13, 2010

    Humorous account of China today

    I visited Beijing and Lanzhou in Sept./Oct. of 2009 with friends. Maarten Troost gives an accurate picture of the people, history, and current bustling society. He lends both humor and intellect in his writing. It was an enjoyable read that I will be pass on to my friend.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 26, 2010

    Fun and Informative Read!

    After having been to China three times in the past 10 years, I really understood what the author was talking about in this funny and informative book. He had me laughing out loud in several places and remembering some things about my trips both fondly and with humor. If you have never experienced China firsthand, you might find some of what he says to be perplexing or off-the-wall, but my experiences and his were similar enough that I found what he wrote very confirming. China, as a whole, is a very interesting and untamed place to visit. This book confirms it for the reader.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 23, 2010

    favorite pick

    One of the funniest books I have ever had the pleasure of reading.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 14, 2009

    Not worth it

    I confess that I didn't get past the first few chapters. I find it incredible that a man who is supposedly a world traveler would be so fantastically arrogant as to travel to a foreign country with no understanding of the language (the author's excuse is that chinese is much too difficult and complex to be worth learning), then complain about not understanding anybody.

    The author also supposedly was never able to cross a street in Beijing due to the crazy drivers. While Beijing is a very large and crowded place, I needed less than two days to pick up the knack for crossing the street. It really isn't rocket science.

    I also found the author's rampant cynicism and lack of humor to be a turn off for this book. I wouldn't recommend anyone waste their time with this mostly useless read.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 29, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Incredible

    Great book, could not put it down. Hillarious and a page turner.

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  • Posted December 9, 2008

    A fun read!

    This book had me laughing out loud! I enjoyed Troost's writing style. It was hard to put this book down.

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