Country Driving: a Journey Through China from Farm to Factory
By Peter Hessler
Harper, 2010. 438 pgs. Nonfiction.
If you want to see China but don’t have money to go there, join Peter Hessler on his country drives. Your first “trip” of 7000 miles follows the Great Wall (which is actually a series of walls) from Beijing to the Tibetan plateau. You’ll camp in the desert so the local authorities won’t know you don’t have travel documents, and meet a wide variety of Chinese hitchhikers, truckers and workers. For a more intimate look at life in a small village, Hessler will be your sympathetic Chinese speaking guide to the small village of Sancha just outside Beijing. You’ll be part of village life and watch the changes that come with the new highways connecting the village to the big city. Last, Hessler takes you to a new economic development zone to watch a factory start from the ground up.
I highly recommend this wonderful book. Anyone with an interest in China should read it. And if you wonder if you might be interested in China but don’t know what book to read first, start here. Hessler is a well-informed guide who shares his experiences with humor and unreserved affection for the Chinese people. He has also written Oracle Bones: a Journey Between China’s Past and Present and River Town: Two Years on the Yangtze. SH