The Washington Post
Beijing Welcomes You: Unveiling the Capital City of the Futureby Tom Scocca
Within the past decade, Beijing has debuted as the defining city of the now and foreseeable future, and China as the ascendant global power. Beijing is the ultimate representation of China's political and cultural capital, of its/b>
A definitive, and highly entertaining, account of contemporary Beijing, the undisputed capital of the twenty-first century.
Within the past decade, Beijing has debuted as the defining city of the now and foreseeable future, and China as the ascendant global power. Beijing is the ultimate representation of China's political and cultural capital, of its might-and threat. For so long, the city was closed off to the world, literally built around the Forbidden City, the icon of all that was ominous about China. But now, the country is eager to show off its new openness, its glory and magnanimity, and Beijing is its star. When Tom Scocca arrived in 2004-an American eager to see another culture-Beijing was looking toward welcoming the world to its Olympics four years later, and preparations were in full swing to create a renewed city.
Scocca talked to the scientists tasked with changing the weather; interviewed designers and architects churning out projects; checked out the campaign to stop public spitting; documented the planting of trees, the rerouting of traffic, the demolition of the old city, and the construction of the new metropolis. Beijing Welcomes You is a glimpse into the future and an encounter with an urban place we do not yet fully comprehend, and the superpower it is essential we get to know better.
The Washington Post
“Blindingly brilliant insights . . . Scocca writes with grace, texture, nuance, wisdom, and wit. Don’t skim this book, savor it.” — Gene Weingarten
“Wry [and] knowing . . . Beijing Welcomes You is a street-level introduction to a city that’s at once the world’s center and its back office, a place where you can feel ‘on the top of the pile and on the bottom, all at once.’” — The Christian Science Monitor
“Lively . . . [Scocca] has a keen eye for the oddities with which Beijing is abundantly endowed.” — The Washington Post
A curiously backward-moving but fun book chronicling the buildup to the Beijing Olympics.
A columnist at the time for the New York Observer, Slate blogger Scocca and his Chinese American wife moved to Beijing in 2004 (she worked in nonprofit, he commuted back and forth from New York). For the next four years, by the magic date of 8/8/08, they witnessed the extraordinary transformation of the city into a marvel for the world. A once closed-off, cluttered capital city plagued by the rambling hutongs (the old city's lanes and alleys...right-angled jogs and branchings, blind turns and dead ends, parallel lines suddenly swinging perpendicularly away from each other"), traffic jams and smog, Beijing was gradually rearranged, gutted and renovated by enormous, all-devouring construction projects. The single-characterchai("tear down") was painted everywhere. The Stalinist architecture and goofy traditionalist designs were scuttled in favor of the innovative and sculptural: "hatboxes, flashlights, sardine cans standing on end, a giant topiary garden in steel and glass." China would spend $40 billion to prepare for the Games, aiming for a top gold-medal count (only 20 years before, China had won its first gold medal in Los Angeles), hiding its hordes of rustic migrant workers and selecting the Olympic motto "One world, one dream" (Scocca's alternate translation: "Same world, same dream"). Life in Beijing for the foreigners was not always easy or comfortable (such as the manifestation of the security state via Internet censorship), but endlessly fascinating and unintentionally hilarious: the lively, ever-changing taxi fleet, the everyday objects that fell apart effortlessly, the contradictions in the Chinese character, the government's efforts to improve their citizens' manners by prohibiting public spitting and rehearsing orderly lining-up prescribed "line-up day." The last part of Scocca's amusing account marks the suspenseful countdown to the big day, a triumph for China, followed by an extensive assessment that China had indeed "joined the world."
A witty, light-handed chronicle, though after three years, the Beijing Olympics has already lost its luster.
- Penguin Publishing Group
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- Penguin Group
- NOOK Book
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- File size:
- 826 KB
- Age Range:
- 18 Years
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Meet the Author
Tom Scocca was the "Off the Record" columnist and media editor for The New York Observer before decamping for Beijing. Before that, he was an editor and writer for Washington City Paper and Baltimore's City Paper. A Baltimore native, he is settling in New York with his wife and son (a Beijing native). He writes the "Scocca" blog for Slate, and his byline appears regularly in the Boston Globe and The Awl.
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