China in 2008

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So you’ve put off holiday shopping until now. If you’d like to share your love of China this year, here are a few recommendations for old classics and more recent releases for the recipients on your list. All these books are widely available and relatively affordable.

1. Fortress Besieged, by Qian Zhongshu

For: The Literature Lover
We’ve written about this 1947 novel at China Beat before. It is a classic of Chinese literature, but not particularly well known in the West, making it the perfect gift for a well-read friend or relative.

2. The Question of Hu, Jonathan Spence
For: The Europhile

In John Hu, a Chinese convert brought to Paris by a French Jesuit in 1722, Spence found a lively and affecting example of the confusion of cross-cultural interactions.

3. The Story of the Stone (Hongloumeng), by Cao Xueqin (trans. by David Hawkes)
For: Jane Austen Fans
“Dream of the Red Mansion,” in this version translated as “Story of the Stone,” is the most important of Chinese novels, telling the story of the inner life of two elite Manchu families. David Hawkes’s translation puts the Qing novel into the language of the English aristocracy (in five volumes; we’ve linked to Volume 1 above).

Liu Dapeng’s life straddled China’s wrenching transition to modernity. In this book, Harrison tells that story through one man’s life in rural Shanxi.

5. China: Fragile Superpower, Susan Shirk
For: The Policy Wonk

Of the many books available on “understanding” China and its political relationships to the US, this is one of the best and most readable. Read an earlier China Beat review of it here.

The weekend after Thanksgiving is the beginning of the Christmas shopping season, but if you’d like to avoid the crush at the malls, China in 2008 now has its own webpage, where you can order a copy for all those hard-to-gift friends (especially if they don’t mind it arriving in March–the release date for the book…).
One of the themes in our forthcoming book, China in 2008: A Year of Great Significance, is how the year 2008 came to symbolize more than just the hosting of the Olympics in China. “2008” came to mean China’s emergence on the world stage with the respect and admiration of people around the globe. When we saw this picture, taken by Shanghai-based photographer Iain Harral, it seemed to represent that fervent hope–so fervent that it was, in this case, literally written on the body. We’re grateful to Iain for allowing us to use this photo on the cover of our forthcoming book. Once we have a final cover mock-up, we’ll be sharing that here. In the meantime, we wanted to give you a peek at Iain’s fabulous image.

While our forthcoming blog-to-book, China in 2008, contains some content that regular China Beat readers will find familiar because versions of the pieces have either run or been linked to at China Beat (though many of these have been expanded or revised also), about one-third of the book is brand-new. Below, find the table of contents listing the essays included in the book’s fifteen chapters. Each chapter also includes additional, brief excerpts from the blog which are not listed here. China in 2008 will be published in early 2009.

China in 2008: A Reflection on a Year of Great Significance, by Kate Merkel-Hess

Chapter 1: Anxieties of a Prosperous Age
NIMBY Comes to China, by Jeffrey N. Wasserstrom
Homeowners’ Protests in Shanghai: An Interview with Benjamin Read, by Angilee Shah
Gilded Age, Gilded Cage, by Leslie T. Chang
Melamine and Milk in Modern China, by Anna Greenspan
Little Emperors or Frail Pragmatists? China’s ’80ers Generation, by Yunxiang Yan

Chapter 2: Tibet
At War with the Utopia of Modernity, by Pankaj Mishra
How to Think About Tibet, by Donald S. Lopez, Jr.
Ballooning Unrest: Tibet, State Violence and the Incredible Lightness of Knowledge, by Charlene Makley

Chapter 3: Meanwhile, Across the Straits…
Readings on Taiwan, by Paul R. Katz

Chapter 4, Nationalism and the Torch
Torching the Relay: An Interview with Geremie Barmé, with questions from Woroni
Chinese protesters extinguish Olympic torch in protest?, from
Why Were Chinese People so Angry about the Attempts to Seize the Torch in the International Torch Relay?, by Susan Brownell

Chapter 5, Earthquake and Recovery
Rumor and the Sichuan Earthquake, by S. A. Smith
Earthquake and the Imperatives of Chinese Mourning, by Donald S. Sutton
Chinese Responses to Disaster: A View from the Qing, by Kathryn Edgerton-Tarpley
China and the Red Cross, by Caroline Reeves
Resistance Is Useful, by Rana Mitter
After the Earthquake: Former students report on the disaster, by Peter Hessler
Letters from Sichuan II, by Peter Hessler

Chapter 6, Shanghai Images in Beijing’s Year
Disappearing Shanghai, by Howard W. French

Chapter 7, Tiananmen Reconsidered
Tiananmen’s Shifting Legacy, by Jeffrey N. Wasserstrom
The Gate of Heavenly Peace-Making, by Pär K. Cassel

Chapter 8, The Road to the Olympics
China’s Olympic Road, by Susan Brownell
The Boycotts of ’08 Revisited, by Jeffrey N. Wasserstrom
How to Talk to Strangers: Beijing’s Advice, by Mary S. Erbaugh
Learning English, Learning Chinese, by David L. Porter

Chapter 9, The Olympics as Spectacle
It’s Right to Party, en Masse, by Haiyan Lee
Where Were China’s Women on 08/08/08?, by Nicole E. Barnes
What Would Mao Think of the Games?, by Jeffrey N. Wasserstrom
The Olympics Around the World, excerpts by Pierre Fuller, David Luesink, Miri Kim, Paola Voci, and Shakhar Rahav
From Lovers to Volunteers: China’s National Anthem, by Liang Luo
Beijing’s Olympic Weather: “Haze,” Blue Skies, and Hot Air, by Alex Pasternack
Beijing’s Olympic Soundscape: Volunteerism, internationalism, heroism and patriotism at the 2008 Games, by Daniel Beekman

Chapter 10, China after the Games
One Bed, Different Dreams: The Beijing Olympics as seen in Tokyo, by James Farrer
China’s Olympic Run, by Pallavi Aiyar

Chapter 11, Follow the Leader
Facing Up to Friendship, by Geremie R. Barmé
Preserving the Premier’s Calligraphy at Beichuan Middle School, by Richard C. Kraus
Boss Hu and the Press, by Nicolai Volland
Hua Guofeng: Remembering a Forgotten Leader, by Jeremiah Jenne

Chapter 12, Things Seen and Unseen
Digital China: Ten Things Worth Knowing about the Chinese Internet, by Kate Merkel-Hess and Jeffrey N. Wasserstrom
The Chinese Press in the Spotlight, by Timothy B. Weston
Finding Trust Online: Tigergate to the Sichuan Earthquakes, by Guobin Yang
Things We’d Rather You Not Say on the Web, Or Anywhere Else, by David Bandurski

Chapter 13, Pop Culture in a Global Age
Kung Fu Panda, Go Home!, by Haiyan Lee
In Defense of Jiang Rong’s Wolf Totem, by Timothy B. Weston
Wolf Totem: Romanticized Essentialization, by Nicole E. Barnes
Wei Cheng: From an Elite Novel to a Popular Metaphor, by Xia Shi
Faking Heaven: It’s All Done with Mirrors, by Timothy S. Oakes

Chapter 14, Reinvented Traditions
The Global Rebranding of Confucius, by Julia K. Murray
China: Democracy, or Confucianism?, by Xujun Eberlein

Chapter 15, China and the U.S.
A Nation of Outlaws, by Stephen Mihm
Democracy or Bust: Why our Knowledge about What the Chinese Lack is Really No Knowledge at All, by David L. Porter
Follow the Money: A Tale of Two Economies, by Kenneth L. Pomeranz
Yellow Peril Consumerism: China, North America, and an Era of Global Trade, by Amy Hanser

Afterword by Kenneth L. Pomeranz

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