Friday, January 4, 2013

Country Driving: A Chinese Road Trip

by Peter Hessler is a book by a magazine writer who lived in China for several years.

The book is about China and includes driving, but it is not really about a road trip.

The book is divided into three sections.  The first section is about the author driving along the length of the Great Wall.  He found that most people who live away from the growing eastern and southern China coast live there because they are too young or too old to move to where the action is.  This section of the book is interesting but not really about the driving or the roads.  This section, in particular, showed me how a magazine writer writes a book.  Interesting stories and information abound, but any depth is missing.  When full time book authors write books they cover subjects thoroughly.  This book reads more like a magazine.

The second part of this book is about the author living in his "vacation home" in the country just past the Beijing suburbs.  He spent several years living in this poor town and watched it grow from where the citizens averaged a few hundred dollars of income in a year to a few thousand.

The third part of the book was about the author visiting a growing factory town.  I particularly remember reading about how the factory the author looked at was designed.  The owners and the contractor drew a floor plan on a wrinkled piece of paper in a few minutes.  And a few months later it was up and operational.  This part of the book covered the lifestyles of the factory workers a bit, but the most informative part was about how businesses start and grow in China.

The second two sections of this book were not really about driving, but the book was reasonably good nonetheless.  If I didn't already have several books ready to be read I'd consider reading this author's previous books.

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