I finished China Wakes! And it only took me four months. Blergh. It's not a difficult book; it's just that I would put it down and forget to pick it up for weeks at a time.
I really enjoyed this book and recommend it highly. Both Kristof and WuDunn are great writers and thinkers - plus, the fact that they're married and clearly have the utmost respect and love for each other adds a nice "awww" factor. And while it's a serious book, they aren't afraid to throw in some humor now and again:
"I'll never forget my first glimpse of Taiwan as a journalist. It was late November 1986, and I had just arrived from Hong Kong to cover the legislative elections. I stepped off the plane and saw hundreds of riot policemen in the immigration area. They were lined up in rows, looking like Nazis, and periodically, a row trotted forward in perfect union. Through the window, thousands more were visible in the parking lot beyond, surrounded by military vehicles and coils of barbed wire. As a perceptive journalist, trained to pick up the most delicate signals, I concluded that something might be up."
In addition to interesting anecdotes and colorful descriptions of their time in China (mostly in the 80's and early 90's), their book answered a couple of the questions I posed in an earlier blog post.
"When I say that China is fascist, I mean that it is a one-party dictatorship with a market economy and a large number of state-controlled corporations...Obviously, no label fits China perfectly and I don't want to stretch the fascist analogy too far. But whatever China is, at this moment it is not a Communist country. No Communist country has ever owed so much to capitalism, or ever reduced central planning to such a marginal role, as China has in the 1990's. No Communist country has ever enjoyed such a profusion of photocopiers, satellite dishes, private schools, talk shows, karaoke bars, hula hoops, and sex shops. No Communist country has ever opened itself up so much to trade and foreign investment, given out passports to its citizens so easily, or so gleefully sent tens of thousands of its students to the West..."