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From Barnes & NobleThe Barnes & Noble Review
"China," writes David Sheff, is now "one of the most vibrant places on the planet, where each day has a life-or-death sense of purpose, despair, frustration, opportunity, hope, and dread." As this quotation reveals, Sheff's prose is as energetic and alive as his chosen subject, the digital revolution that is "invisibly but profoundly" transforming one of the world's oldest cultures into an economic and technological powerhouse.
For a sense of the book's scope, consider some of the scenarios Sheff sketches in his preface. For instance, half of China's population is scheduled to become connected to the Internet within the next decade, creating an online community of 600 million users that could become the largest market for American technology products. And since the ability to exchange scientific, political, and personal information accompanies Internet access, the digitalization of China could just be a prelude to an eventual democratization of the country. The consequences of "digital packets and beams of light" could be staggering, particularly since any change in the Chinese government will have a tremendous impact on the entire global community.
Sheff approaches his subject by focusing on two young Chinese information technology leaders: Bo Feng, investment banker and venture capitalist, and Edward Tian, CEO of China Netcom Corporation (CNC). The force that drives both men came into being with the Tiananmen Square tragedy: Like many Chinese students abroad at the time, they wanted to return to China to participate in the struggle for reform and to peacefully avenge the fate of the student protesters. Both men resolved to use the business acumen they acquired in the United States as an agent of change, although that resolve is also balanced by a patriotic emotion that is very compelling. Although there have been other group portraits of entrepreneurs in action (Randall Stross' eBoys being the most compelling), China Dawn draws you into its narrative with a power that exceeds that of any other similar book. After all, the destiny of humanity could hinge upon what happens in China. Written with more zeal and energy than most thrillers, this is a book that you'll find to be pleasurable as well as educational, entertaining as well as serious. (Holly McGuire and Sunil Sharma)