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Country Driving: A Chinese Road Trip
 
 

Country Driving: A Chinese Road Trip [Kindle Edition]

Peter Hessler
5.0 von 5 Sternen  Alle Rezensionen anzeigen (2 Kundenrezensionen)

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Kindle Edition EUR 6,98  
Kindle Edition, 4. März 2010 EUR 7,80  
Gebundene Ausgabe EUR 21,19  
Taschenbuch EUR 10,95  


Produktbeschreibungen

Pressestimmen

'A masterly, learned, entertaining, kind and endlessly fascinating panorama of life in 21st-century China.' Jan Morris

Pressestimmen

'A masterly, learned, entertaining, kind and endlessly fascinating panorama of life in 21st-century China.' Jan Morris

Produktinformation

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • Dateigröße: 1451 KB
  • Seitenzahl der Print-Ausgabe: 561 Seiten
  • Verlag: Canongate Books (4. März 2010)
  • Verkauf durch: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Sprache: Englisch
  • ASIN: B003ATPR9M
  • Text-to-Speech (Vorlesemodus): Aktiviert
  • X-Ray:
  • Durchschnittliche Kundenbewertung: 5.0 von 5 Sternen  Alle Rezensionen anzeigen (2 Kundenrezensionen)
  • Amazon Bestseller-Rang: #162.887 Bezahlt in Kindle-Shop (Siehe Top 100 Bezahlt in Kindle-Shop)

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2 von 2 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
Format:Taschenbuch
Wann immer ich jetzt eine billige Jacke aus Lederimitat über die Straße gehen sehe, kommt mir sofort die Wortschöpfung "pleather" (= plastic-leather) in den Sinn und damit Peter Hesslers Reisebeschreibung "Country Driving - a Chinese Road Trip". Stilistisch und sprachlich äußerst amüsant zu lesen und ich empfehle deshalb auch - ohne die deutsche Übersetzung zu kennen - die englische Originalfassung. Ich war selber beruflich mehrere Jahre in Beijing und in der Provinz Zhejiang und konnte mir die beschriebenen Situationen so bildhaft vorstellen, sehr nahe dran am selbst Erlebten, absolut treffend ! Das Buch ist viel mehr als ein Reisebericht (hauptsächlich im Teil 1) über diverse Touren mit einem Mietwagen in China sondern eher ein Gesellschaftsporträt in drei Teilen: The Wall, The Village, The Factory.
Für in Beijing lebende Ausländer ist das zweite Kapitel ein "Muss" - ein Blick über den Tellerrand der Millionenstadt. Hessler schreibt über seine Erfahrungen im Dorf Sancha in der Nähe von Huairou an der großen Mauer (zwischen den Mauertourismus-Orten Huanghuacheng und Mutianyu) wo er sich zur Erholung ein Domizil fürs Wochenende langfristig angemietet hat. Über mehrere Jahre hinweg erlebt er die die Entwicklung des Dorfes und seiner Bevölkerung. Wer in Beijings Umgebung auf eigene Faust Mauerwanderungen unternommen hat und in staubigen Dörfern der Provinz Hebei gestrandet ist, kann die Atmosphäre der ärmlichen und häufig verlassenen Dörfer der an Beijing grenzenden Provinz Hebei nachvollziehen und wird sich hier wiederfinden.
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2 von 2 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen 2 der 3 Teile brilliant 27. Oktober 2010
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
Das Buch ergänzt sehr gut das bekannte Erstlingswerk "River Town" des Autors. "Country Driving" gliedert sich in 3 Teile. Der erste beschreibt die Fahrt des Autoren entlang der Chinesischen Mauern. Dort gelang es ihm aber nicht, näheren, tieferen Kontakt zu den Menschen herzustellen, für mich war der Teil eher nichtssagend.

Dafür überwältigten mich die anderen beiden Teile. Mr.Hessler beschreibt das Dorf nördlich von Beijing, in dem er ein "Ferien- und Arbeitshaus" hat. Seine Beschreibung der Menschen und wie sie mit den Umwälzungen in diesem Land und ihrer Region (von bäuerlichem Chrakter zur Gegend für Mauer-Tourismus) und dadurch in ihrer Lebensweise umgehen, geht sehr nahe.

Der dritte Teil schildert ein neu gegründetes Unternehmen in Zhejiang (südlich von Shanghai)und bietet eingehende Portraits der Fabrikbesitzer und vor allem vieler Arbeiter und Arbeiterinnen. Auch jemand, der "Factory Girls" von der Ehefrau des Autoren, Leslie Chang, gelesen hat, wird hier viel neues, spannendes, anrührendes entdecken.

In diesem Buch, insbesondere Teil 2 und 3, lernt man auf unterhaltendste Weise immens viel über China und seine Menschen im 21. Jahrhundert.
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Amazon.com: 4.6 von 5 Sternen  141 Rezensionen
125 von 133 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen Peter Hessler Does It Again 16. Februar 2010
Von Thom Mitchell - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe|Verifizierter Kauf
Mr. Hessler's 3rd book on China continues his tradition of excellent writing and reporting. His tales of his travels driving through China are illuminating, as are his village and factory narratives. He truly provides insight into a time, people and place in China that most of us will never meet, see or experience. His previous books, River Town: Two Years on the Yangtze (P.S.) and Oracle Bones: A Journey Through Time in China (P.S.), have become must-reads for anyone who wants to learn about modern China and this book might be his best yet.

His humor, insight and empathy are as extraordinary as his ability to pack so much information into such a compelling narrative. I pre-ordered the book and once it arrived I couldn't put it down until I finished it. If you are trying to understand China for work, study, travel or just personal interest - this should be right at the top of your reading list. You won't be disappointed.
24 von 25 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen Thoroughly enjoyable read 11. Mai 2010
Von Lazy Tom - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe|Verifizierter Kauf
I don't remember ever giving a book five stars but this was such a pleasure to read that I could not resist. The book is divided into three parts. First, he drives a route along the Great Wall travelling into some remote parts of the north west. His account is funny and informative in places and always written in an easy, engaging style. However, this was the weakest and least interesting part of the book. It lacked the people contact which made the rest of the book so interesting. The second part takes place in a rural village outside of Beijing. The main focus is a single family - husband, wife, and five year old son. There is lots happening in their lives - opportunities to better their lives come and go, village politics, Party politics, schooling of the son, problems of economic success as the family businesses grow. The author rented a house in the village for at least a couple of years and visited afterward so the story covers about five years. The author speaks fluent mandarin and becomes very close to the family. A great story, well written. The third part takes place in a development zone and describes building, staffing, and operation of a new factory. Once again the author manages to insert himself into their world and he tells a gentle and humorous story of growth and development in China. I think he captures the character and nuances of the new China really well.

I think that this book appealed to me, in part, because I know little about China. I was not looking for something focused on economics, politics, or history. I bought it because I was told that it was well written, a pleasure to read, and told some good stories of China in the new millenium.

Complaints? I would have loved it if he had better maps.
35 von 40 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen Glimpse into everyday life in China 15. Februar 2010
Von J. Attwood - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verifizierter Kauf
Well written observation of the impact of the Chinese Economic boom on the nation's citizens. This book is three stories - it is not just a travelogue of driving around the country.

Mr. Hessler's writing is tight and descriptive. He takes a non-judgmental attitude throughout the narratives and allows the reader a clear look at the country's current zeitgeist. The book held my interest and I'd happily purchase further writings from this author on the subject matter.
41 von 50 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen Excellent Insights Into China! 16. Februar 2010
Von Loyd E. Eskildson - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
Country Driving" consists of three narratives intended to convey how China is changing with the building of new roads. While the book accomplishes little in that regard, it does help readers understand Chinese culture, how that culture is developed at school, and the idiosyncrasies of life in China. The book begins with Hessler acquiring a Chinese driver's license in 2001 after living and touring in China for five years teaching English, serving as a free-lance reporter, and learning to read and speak Chinese.

Obtaining a driver's license is no mean feat for Chinese citizens - requirements include a medical checkup, passing a written exam, and completing a driving course and extensive driving test. (These requirements are greatly lessened for those already licensed in other nations.) Unfortunately, the driving courses and regulations have little connection to safety - seat belts, turn signals, and children's car seats are not required, and despite having only one-fifth the number of vehicles for about the same geographic area as the U.S., China has twice the number of traffic fatalities. A lesser problem is that maps do not label most roads, lack a marked scale or distances between towns, and the indicated roads sometimes turn into creek beds. Nonetheless, almost 1,000 new drivers register each day in Beijing alone. Hessler always rented the vehicles he used, probably because autos owned by foreigners have a distinctive license plate that would reveal when he was traveling outside his residence area - guaranteeing special police attention.

Hessler's first narrative summarized his driving over 7,000 miles across northern China following the Great Wall, built during the Ming Dynasty - 1368-1644, from the East China Sea to the Tibetan plateau in a rented Chinese-made Jeep Cherokee ($30/day). (Hessler was required to immediately leave the Tibetan area - it is forbidden to foreigners.) Many days he traveled less than 100 miles, taking time to tour and visit with locals, and usually camping out to avoid small-town hotels because they often reported him to local police. (Foreign journalists were required to apply to local authorities before arriving - Hessler rarely did so because he lacked a set itinerary and the process invariably led to more questioning.) Truckers' dorms were an alternative because they normally lacked the police registration forms. Besides rarely seen portions of the Great Wall, Hessler also observed numerous remains of signal towers also built during the Ming dynasty - the remains were over 20' high, made of tamped earth, and had been used to send military communications using fires, lanterns, smoke signals, and flags. Some of the Great Wall has been denuded of its brick facing - used as a 'free' resource and also a target of Cultural Revolution efforts to obliterate China's feudal past; this is no longer allowed. The less-traveled roads often were covered with grain piles during harvest time - an illegal practice that provided free threshing by passing vehicle tires. Occasionally Hessler's travel was interrupted by stops at roadside funerals that lasted up to 7 days. (Most deceased Chinese are cremated, except in outlying areas.)

The second, and most appealing, segment of "Country Driving" covers the six years beginning in 2001 that were spent in Sancha, a small walnut farming village in the mountains north of Beijing that had shrunk from a population of 300 in 1970 to less than 150. (About 90 million Chinese migrated from the countryside by 2001, primarily to new factory towns on the southeastern coast; these numbers grew to an estimated 130 million by 2008.) Here he rents a 3-room house ($40/month) amidst a community with an average GDP of $250/capita and 17 Communist Party members. Party membership requires a formal application, followed by meetings, interviews, evaluations, and self-criticisms that can take six months, or more - only about 5% are members, and some join primarily (eg. his neighbor, in 2004) to add business contacts and leverage with local officials. While there, Hessler becomes close to his neighbors and their young son (Wei Jia - only child in the village) and part of the community routines.

Hessler's reporting on the 'local' boarding school, 30-some miles away, is particularly interesting. Report cards are 30+ pages long - the evaluations begin using a 20-item list titled "Elementary School Rules of Daily Behavior." Examples: 1)"Be interested in national events, respect the national flag, respect the national emblem, know how to sing the national anthem." (Many rural villagers, however, don't even know the name of the current premier.) 2)"Cherish the honor of the group and be a responsible member of the group." Etc. Physical measurements are also included - height, weight, eyesight, hearing, lung capacity. At the end of the 2nd-grade and other report cards are a series of unfinished faces where children draw either a smiley, straight, or frowning face in response to self-evaluation questions such as "participates in labor for the collective welfare."

Hessler's education perspectives continue, reporting almost never meeting a parent without educational aspirations for his/her child - unlike America. Everything revolves around memorization and repetition (sometimes with no context - eg. memorizing instructions for Microsoft FrontPage XP), though their mathematics texts are far more advanced than their equivalents in the U.S. There is no ability grouping. Returning to Wei Jia, his education begins inauspiciously. Wei's kindergarten year (staying at his grandparents in another village) begins with him declaring "This place is no good!" - understandable since he had never been with a group of children before, and the school was in such poor condition it was closed the next year. Regardless, Wei's first school year quickly ended because of ITP (a bleeding disorder) that necessitated a trip to a Beijing children's hospital for gamma globulin treatment. Fortunately, despite the staff's aloofness and requiring payment in advance (Wei's parents had insurance that paid after-the-fact), Wei fully recovered, though one wonders what would have happened without access to Hessler's rented auto and advice from foreign medical sources. (The 'good news' is that China is now expanding health care and insurance for all.)

Wei's second year (first grade) in school, however, was as bad, if not worse. Homework was mostly ignored, he wandered around the room during class, didn't eat all his food, and even failed to stand at attention during an address by the principal. Wei's parents made it quite clear to him that they were very upset, and followed up regularly. Second grade brought a total turnaround - Wei led the class in mathematics, did his homework, ate all his food, and was appointed Politeness Monitor (reports on bad behavior and deducts points accordingly). Chinese classrooms also have Homework Monitors, Hygiene Monitors, and Class Monitors - the latter helps the teacher organize fellow students; in addition, each dorm room has student Room and Vice-Room Monitors to ensure cleaning is carried out. Peer discipline also takes place when misbehaving children are required to stand in front of the class and be criticized by both the teacher and the other students. Finally, parent-teacher conferences are a group exercise - all parents attend together and listen to the teacher's critique of each student, with the bad ones receiving the most attention. Beginning with the 5th grade, class/dorm monitor positions are elected - Wei, however, declined to run, declaring that it was 'too much bother.'

Other interesting China education factoids: Before 1949 80% of the population was illiterate; now UNICEF reports a 99% literacy rate among youth. Nine years of education (free) is required - passing a test is required to attend high-school or vocational school, and tuition is charged. Its higher-education system was devastated during the 1966-76 Cultural Revolution, though is now rebuilding. The proportion of college-age youth enrolled in higher-education is 20%.

Smoking among men is pervasive, and exchanging cigarettes is part of social relations. There are over 400 brands of Chinese cigarettes - all state-owned and with varying status levels, 50 cable channels cost less than $20/year, nobody knocks when they visit a neighbor in Sancha, the village chief is elected by all via secret ballot and need not be a party member (he/she is outranked by the Party Secretary, however), the town's propaganda speakers blare out news each morning about government initiatives, and by 2006 the town's GDP/capita had risen to $800 as a result of tourism from Beijing generated by the road being paved (now about a two-hour drive from Beijing). Wei's father gained more than most by starting a restaurant that served fresh fish kept in a tank, and adding several rental rooms. The money for these ventures originally came from his personal savings and loans from relatives; later, after joining the Party he was also able to get government grants and loans. Credit cards are rare. Obtaining bank loans requires village approval. Construction workers cost $3/day in 2001, $6/day in 2006.

The biggest used-car market in Beijing has about 20,000 cars for sale, and most sellers are individuals paying 25 cents/hour to park their car there. Approved religions include Protestantism, Catholicism, Buddhism, Taoism, and Islam; Catholics, however, are not allowed to recognize the authority of the pope - avoids conflicts of leadership.

The final segment of "Country Driving" covers two years in Lishui - a newly built manufacturing small town in southeastern China. Starting wages were about 47 cents/hour, though those persistent and with prior 'claimed' background could get more. (Many lied about both their age and experience.) Per capita GDP was about $1,460 in 2006 - much higher than rural areas, and illustrative of the tension within China over equality of economic opportunity. About half the town's revenue came from taxes, and the rest from land 'sales' that involved changing permitted use from agriculture to industrial. (Land status in China is confusing - as best I understand, it can't be sold, but it can be leased). Considerable corruption occurs through officials forcing occupants to give up tenancy for below-market reimbursement, then turning the site over to others at much higher rates associated with new 'zoning' and collecting a hefty 'fee.' A side effect of obtaining sizable revenues through rezoning is that towns become overly reliant on growth for stable revenues - the central government is attempting to change this.

Readers learn near the end that Hessler received a number of photo radar tickets for speeding, that local police invest in the individual photo-radar machines for a share of the revenues, and that they were strategically placed to maximize revenues.

Bottom-Line: "Country Driving" provides good insight into rural life in China, and especially how its education system encourages achievement and fitting into adult society. On the other hand, Hessler's failure to include even a single photo is quite aggravating because it is easy to become interested in some of his characters. The 'good news' is a little Internet research re Sancha, Wei Jia, and Lishui corrects that omission - I was particularly delighted to find photos of Wei Jia in his subsequent early teen-age years guiding Olympic tourists outside his village.
10 von 10 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
4.0 von 5 Sternen Social commentary with a twist of dry wit 3. Mai 2010
Von David Gaston - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
Hessler's excellent China travel journal was really fun. His clear, warmhearted writing serves as serious social commentary, but it also carries an understated sense of irony and dry wit. Starting with the title, "Country Driving," the American past-time takes on an entirely different meaning in Hessler's rural China. He captures a string of insightful and respectful conversations with a wide range of rural and urban Chinese men and women. The informal exchanges help illuminate the very different Eastern and Western cultures and class distinctions. I hope Hessler keeps traveling and writing.
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&quote;
Of the nations 1.3 billion citizens, 72 percent are between the ages of sixteen and sixty-four. &quote;
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&quote;
The phrase he usedShan gao huangdi yuan, The mountains are high, the emperor far awayis common in rural China. &quote;
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Nations, four hundred million Chinese live in places threatened by desertification. &quote;
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