Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Understanding China – Book Review

Author – John Bryan Starr

A review of Understanding China

I haven’t read much outside of novels but wanted to in choosing Understand China.  In picking something to read you must let whatever topic of interest floats and stays within you to direct your course.  I purchased this book in May of 2011 and was a bit slow on reading it all the way through.  I desired to learn about a country I knew little about, other than what you hear word of mouth which can be as reliable as Wikipedia.  As the final page turned I was left with knowledge that put a few more wrinkles in my brain.

What’s it about?
The book consists of the Chinese economy, its geography, history and politics.  I’m not into politics and although it states on the front cover that the book contains information on it I have no one to blame but myself.  I found those sections a bit more grinding to go through but it wasn’t as awful as I assumed it would be.  The geography doesn’t have as much content as the other three main topics.

Chapters I enjoyed
The first two chapters focused on geography and history which kept my interest easily.  Discovering China’s population growth wasn’t always so far up in numbers as I assumed it was throughout history.  It occurred in later dynasties and the country’s population until then was moderate and more in tune with the rest of the world.  The severe lack of arable land also was fascinating to learn about as I again assumed since the country had size it had plenty of farmland.  The effect Taiwan has on China was also more of what I didn’t know.  It goes to lengths describing how Taiwan seeks to break away from China but that’s never going to happen.

Wrap Up
If you want to simply learn about something, in this case China, decide what it will be and go for it.  Nobody is holding you back and if China is that thing then this is a great book to start off with.  The politics slow it down unless that’s your thing then you’ll discover much to delight you.  I’d recommend chapters 1,2,13 and 16 as high points.

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