15 March 2013

China – Essential Reading

After being asked for my opinion on how best to understand modern China I decided to inspect my bookcase and jog my memory for some of the most useful books which I have come across in my own continuing effort to understand China as a resident of Shanghai.

Eventually I managed to separate my top 5 reads and have listed them below with a short summary to guide you on the contents and help you choose the most useful book for you!

1.  The Party by Richard McGregor.  A fantastic book about how the CCP works and explains a lot about how business operates in China too.

2.  Poorly Made in China by Paul Midler. Essential reading for anyone involved in manufacturing or uses Chinese suppliers; very revealing about how they operate.

3.  Mr China by Tim Clissold. A little dated now but still a great read. Tim Clissold started doing business in China in the 80s and 90s as it was just opening up and has fantastic stories to tell about the difficulties that posed.  Thankfully, things have moved on a little since then but the book is still a fantastic window onto the Chinese mindset.

4.  China Shakes the World; The Rise of a Hungary Nation by James Kynge.  An excellent introduction into modern China and some of its problems and opportunities.

5.  China Road by Rob Gifford.  After many years in China as the NPR correspondent Gifford embarked on a 3000 mile road trip from Shanghai to the Gobi Desert and the result is this book.  More than another other ‘China book’, for me this work really reveals what China is like for those who live there and the complexities that exist in trying to understand or make generalisations about the country as a foreigner.

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