A Single Pebble

A Single Pebble

4.6 3
by John Hersey
     
 

View All Available Formats & Editions

A young American engineer sent to China to inspect the unruly Yangtze River travels up through the river's gorges searching for dam sites. Pulled on a junk hauled by forty-odd trackers, he is carried, too, into the settled, ancient way of life of the people of the Yangtze — until the interplay of his life with theirs comes to a dramatic climax.  See more details below

Overview

A young American engineer sent to China to inspect the unruly Yangtze River travels up through the river's gorges searching for dam sites. Pulled on a junk hauled by forty-odd trackers, he is carried, too, into the settled, ancient way of life of the people of the Yangtze — until the interplay of his life with theirs comes to a dramatic climax.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"In a deceptively simple story, Hersey has captured all the magic, the terror and the drama of that extraordinary stretch of water....Even in Mr. Hersey's hands, the American's discoveries of his own mind and of the Chinese people are dwarfed by the laws, the demands and the ageless vitality of the Yangtze."

— The New York Times Book Review

"A rewarding novel; it is clearly thought and beautifully projected on the screen of the imagination." — Atlantic

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780394756974
Publisher:
Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date:
02/28/1989
Edition description:
1st Vintage Books ed
Pages:
192
Sales rank:
670,753
Product dimensions:
5.18(w) x 8.01(h) x 0.49(d)

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >

A Single Pebble 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Hershey has written a small, but very powerful book. It is full of whimsey and cultural contrasts. It entertains such questions as what is true progress. Indeed, it is a great book for group discussions.
Guest More than 1 year ago
If all that a reader got from this Hersey book would be an exciting travelogue of a journey up the Yangtse River, it might be enough. Certainly Hersey's prose is such that you experience what the narrator is seeing almost as if you were there. But this book is more than just a travelogue; it is a finely drawn examination of what happens when two cultures, with differing beliefs and expectations, are brought into contact. The American narrator arrives with his packed preconceptions. Modern readers will recognize some of their own traits in the narrator--he is impatient, he is a slave to his watch, he believes that his status as a school-educated professional puts him above others who are not, he is a member of a society that values writing above orally transmitted tradition, he considers manual labor as something belonging to animals only. Today's modern writers--particularly those producing work in Cultural and Postcolonial studies--will recognize the narrator's growing puzzlement at the portrait of himself that emerges through the way others view him. He is amazed to learn that the 'foreign devils' do not believe him to be of as exalted a rank as he believes he is. He is further amazed to find that to the Chinese, he is the 'foreign devil.' This is not American bashing on Hersey's part. Rather, it is an examination of cross cultural contact that shows that both sides are guilty of preconceptions and misconceptions. What we find in the work is a young man who has to reexamine his beliefs in light of what he learns on his journey. That he opts for what he knows best and what is familiar is not a condemnation of another culture but becomes a choice of life rather than an unknowing acceptance. It is not a bad thing to examine your beliefs and come to the conclusion that you want the life you are living.
Guest More than 1 year ago
'A Single Pebble' takes place on the Yangtze River in China with a young American engineer sent to find a place for a dam. The American is taken through many revelations while on the ship they call a Junk. He travels up through the river's gorges on the junk hauled by forty trackers. Through this journey he is pulled into the ways of the many hundreds of years of tradition that they have been doing this. With Old Pebble as the head tracker, the book takes readers through the fiercely rising river and many adventures. The engineer falls in love with the wife of the owner of the junk, Su-ling, who explains the myths and stories of the river. We follow him through his understandings and his change in mind as they go up the river.

This book is written through the point of view of the American engineer. This is a nice approach in that we get to see what is going on through his eyes. Readers get a personal reaction to all of the events that are happening. Since he is a foreigner and this is his first time to China, he notices all of the elements that the Chinese take for granted. There is also a down side to this in that we don't get to see all of the action. Most of the action in this book has to interpreted through him, so we get a point of view experienced from his eyes. Because we have the point of view of one character we don't know what the other characters are really like because it is his view on them and not the actual description.