Country Driving: A Chinese Road Trip

Country Driving: A Chinese Road Trip

by Peter Hessler
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Overview

Country Driving: A Chinese Road Trip by Peter Hessler

From the bestselling author of Oracle Bones and River Town comes the final book in his award-winning trilogy, on the human side of the economic revolution in China.

In the summer of 2001, Peter Hessler, the longtime Beijing correspondent for The New Yorker, acquired his Chinese driver's license. For the next seven years, he traveled the country, tracking how the automobile and improved roads were transforming China. Hessler writes movingly of the average people—farmers, migrant workers, entrepreneurs—who have reshaped the nation during one of the most critical periods in its modern history.

Country Driving begins with Hessler's 7,000-mile trip across northern China, following the Great Wall, from the East China Sea to the Tibetan plateau. He investigates a historically important rural region being abandoned, as young people migrate to jobs in the southeast. Next Hessler spends six years in Sancha, a small farming village in the mountains north of Beijing, which changes dramatically after the local road is paved and the capital's auto boom brings new tourism. Finally, he turns his attention to urban China, researching development over a period of more than two years in Lishui, a small southeastern city where officials hope that a new government-built expressway will transform a farm region into a major industrial center.

Peter Hessler, whom The Wall Street Journal calls "one of the Western world's most thoughtful writers on modern China," deftly illuminates the vast, shifting landscape of a traditionally rural nation that, having once built walls against foreigners, is now building roads and factory towns that look to the outside world.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781847674371
Publisher: Canongate Books
Publication date: 04/28/2011
Pages: 550

About the Author

Peter Hessler is a staff writer at The New Yorker, where he served as the Beijing correspondent from 2000 to 2007, and is also a contributing writer for National Geographic. He is the author of River Town, which won the Kiriyama Prize; Oracle Bones, which was a finalist for the National Book Award; and, most recently, Country Driving. He won the 2008 National Magazine Award for excellence in reporting, and he was named a MacArthur Fellow in 2011. He lives in Cairo.

Hometown:

Beijing, China

Date of Birth:

June 14, 1968

Place of Birth:

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Education:

Princeton University, Creative Writing and English, 1992; Oxford University, English Language and Literature, 1994

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Country Driving 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 55 reviews.
Vermillion_Bear More than 1 year ago
I've read all of Peter Hessler's books and this one is by far my favorite. I wish I was able to do like Hessler and drive through China, encountering newly paved highways and dirt roads leading to long forgotten places. There is a small detour where the author makes a home in a village for a number of months, but he continues his journey on the road to encounter ordinary Chinese citizens trying to make a living in a continuously changing China. There are corrupt Chinese officials, honest village leaders, artists, simple country folk, factory workers, and entrepreneurs both in factory towns and small villages. I highly recommend this book for anyone interested in learning about China and how its citizens and a foreigner may perceive the progress of China in different ways.
janet52 More than 1 year ago
Highly humorous, informative, and entertaining, there are three stories in this book. Each offers glimpses into the evolving world of the Chinese. The 1st is really about driving in the country and exploring the Great Wall. 2nd is a story about a country family as they learn to adapt to their rapidly changing/urbanizing world. 3rd is a story about one factory and the people whose livelyhoods depend on it. This is very well written and my favorite Peter Hessler book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I've read three of Peter Hessler's books on China, and this one was my favorite. It gave a great feel for what things were like during the major economic boom in China and how it impacted different parts of the population in both good and bad ways. Mr. Hessler does a good job of building relationships with people in China and gaining valuable insights. The book was written in an entertaining fashion as well, and made it an easy read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A wonderful book about travel and the state of China today.
BrianGriffith More than 1 year ago
I think Hessler is the best kind of journalist, and the opposite of a sensationalist. He just hangs out with local people and conveys their struggles as they try to completely change things. He must be a friendly guy to be allowed such access to people's family and business lives. They let him listen in as they conduct job interviews, discipline kids, handle tax inspectors, plan factories from the ground up, or have dinner with their families. Part of the book concerns road trips. But most of it is about getting to know groups of ordinary people. Their intense pragmatism and determination to improvise give Hessler his opening to learn. We see how development zones are funded, how factories are thrown together, how police buy shares in speed traps, or how traveling circus shows operate outside the law. Mostly, Hessler shows us common people taking huge risks, flying by the seats of their pants, making mistakes that are both dangerous and hilarious, clawing their way to a slightly better day. --author of A Galaxy of Immortal Women: The Yin Side of Chinese Civilization
SylviaMD More than 1 year ago
Our book group tackled this, some of us read only one or two of the three sections. I liked the human portraits best, scattered among the three sections. some of book group laughed at the driving parts in the first section while others were appalled. The village and factory sections, 2 and 3, drew me in the most, especially when children or adolescents were in focus. Very well written, lends itself to selection among the three parts depending on your own personal priorities.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Lots of first hand info about an important and, for many of us Americans, obscure part of the world. Well researched and enjoyably written.
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