Books · China

Long-time New York Times foreign bureau chief and correspondent Howard French weighs in on two books on China, the first being Martin Jacques’ When China Rules the World, which I reviewed last year (I also interviewed Jacques personally), and the second, Capitalism with Chinese Characteristics, a critical look at China’s economy. French is critical of Jacques’ book, while he seems to agree with a lot of the latter book. I’d think I would too, given French’s description of it such as this: “Much of its force is directed at knocking down the widespread hype that characterizes so much writing on China. His point is not to dispute the gaudy headline numbers surrounding the country’s growth, or even to suggest that China won’t continue rising fast. Rather, his book explores the ways in which this expansion has been engineered and tallies its extravagant costs.” I don’t know why he reviewed these books so late as the latter one came out in 2008, but I’d think they’re still very relevant to understanding China.

French has a very interesting career background, having worked in Africa and written a very decent non-fiction book, A Continent for the Taking: The Tragedy and Hope of Africa, that I read a few years back, and then serving in China for a few years.