10 books like The Shanghai Free Taxi

By Frank Langfitt,

Here are 10 books that authors have personally recommended if you like The Shanghai Free Taxi. Shepherd is a community of 7,000+ authors sharing their favorite books with the world.

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A Village with My Name

By Scott Tong,

Book cover of A Village with My Name: A Family History of China's Opening to the World

Also formerly a public radio reporter based in Shanghai, Scott Tong takes us inside his own extended family, scattered across China. Personal stories of the relatives he found reveal not just their troubled histories but also the unvarnished stories of their varying ability to adapt to the opportunities of a modernizing China. Published in March 2019.

A Village with My Name

By Scott Tong,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Village with My Name as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

When journalist Scott Tong moved to Shanghai, his assignment was to start the first full-time China bureau for "Marketplace," the daily business and economics program on public radio stations across the United States. But for Tong the move became much more--it offered the opportunity to reconnect with members of his extended family who had remained in China after his parents fled the communists six decades prior. By uncovering the stories of his family's history, Tong discovered a new way to understand the defining moments of modern China and its long, interrupted quest to go global.

A Village with My Name…


The Myth of Chinese Capitalism

By Dexter Roberts,

Book cover of The Myth of Chinese Capitalism: The Worker, the Factory, and the Future of the World

I’m not fond of the title, but I like this book because it exposes us readers to a little-known population: China’s poor migrant workers. During many visits over ten years, Bloomberg BusinessWeek Beijing correspondent Tiff Roberts befriended a rural family in impoverished Guizhou Province and their relatives who had found industrial jobs in modern Guangdong. His unusual access lets readers understand a key weakness of modern China: the discontent of those not able to prosper during these decades of modernization. Published in March 2020.

The Myth of Chinese Capitalism

By Dexter Roberts,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Myth of Chinese Capitalism as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The untold story of how restrictive policies are preventing China from becoming the world’s largest economy

Dexter Roberts lived in Beijing for two decades working as a reporter on economics, business and politics for Bloomberg Businessweek. In The Myth of Chinese Capitalism, Roberts explores the reality behind today’s financially-ascendant China and pulls the curtain back on how the Chinese manufacturing machine is actually powered.

He focuses on two places: the village of Binghuacun in the province of Guizhou, one of China’s poorest regions that sends the highest proportion of its youth away to become migrants; and Dongguan, China’s most infamous…


We Have Been Harmonized

By Kai Strittmatter,

Book cover of We Have Been Harmonized: Life in China's Surveillance State

Frankly, it makes me squirm to recommend this book, but it’s a topic we Americans need to understand better. Under Xi Jinping, China has expanded its use of surveillance cameras and begun a “social credit” system to track people who are—and aren’t—following the rules. Kai Strittmatter, who reported from China for a leading German newspaper for more than a decade, relies on strong research and concludes that China is Orwellian. And yet, most Chinese citizens I know do not feel watched and oppressed. I’m eager to get back to China to judge for myself. Published in September 2020.

We Have Been Harmonized

By Kai Strittmatter,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked We Have Been Harmonized as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Named a Notable Work of Nonfiction of 2020 by the Washington Post

As heard on NPR's Fresh Air, We Have Been Harmonized, by award-winning correspondent Kai Strittmatter, offers a groundbreaking look, based on decades of research, at how China created the most terrifying surveillance state in history. 

China’s new drive for repression is being underpinned by unpre­cedented advances in technology: facial and voice recognition, GPS tracking, supercomputer databases, intercepted cell phone conver­sations, the monitoring of app use, and millions of high-resolution security cameras make it nearly impossible for a Chinese citizen to hide anything from authorities. Commercial transactions, including food…


Has China Won?

By Kishore Mahbubani,

Book cover of Has China Won?: The Chinese Challenge to American Primacy

By nature, the American press has a very U.S.-centric view. This author, who served many years as Singapore’s ambassador to the United Nations, presents a clear-eyed view of the perspectives of both the U.S. and China, analyzing the motives, history, and values of each. From an impartial standpoint, he gives candid advice on the importance of deeper understanding and concludes that either both countries win or no one wins. Published in March 2020.

Has China Won?

By Kishore Mahbubani,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Has China Won? as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The twenty-first century's great geopolitical contest has begun. A major trade war has broken out. American and Chinese naval vessels are having close encounters in the South China Sea. American congressmen and businessmen are cheering their government's public attacks on China. China is standing firm and resolute. Who will win this contest? What is at stake? And who will judge the winner?In this book, Kishore Mahbubani evaluates the two sides, and shows how China has been thinking on a global scale, launching ambitious initiatives under some of the world's most pragmatic and competent leaders. Most critically, the Chinese people have…


The Americans

By Daniel J. Boorstin,

Book cover of The Americans: The Colonial Experience

The joy of this book (and its sister volumes on the “national” and the democratic” experience) comes from the panoramic journey across space and time that the reader is taken on. This work is, above all, a positive, life-enhancing view of the United States with its focus on continuity rather than conflict. There is an idealistic and romantic strain to this vision, as he pictures a young nation sloughing off the rigid carapace of the Old World, with the idea of a calling replaced by an idea of opportunity. Boorstin is an exemplary guide: his canvas is rich and complex, with countless stories brilliantly picked out to illuminate his vision. Examples include: the utopian vision for the State of Georgia known as “The Margravate of Azalia”; the creation of the Minnesota Pioneer as a dynamic editor loaded a press on a steamboat going up the Mississippi to the future state…

The Americans

By Daniel J. Boorstin,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Americans as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This first volume in "The Americans" trilogy defines the unique qualities of the American nation and rediscovers the American character and way of life as it was shaped in the decisive years between the coming of the Pilgrims and the winning of Independence.


The Beautiful and the Damned

By Siddhartha Deb,

Book cover of The Beautiful and the Damned: A Portrait of the New India

Readers are spoiled for choice when it comes to investigative journalism and narrative non-fiction about contemporary India, but Siddhartha Deb’s collection of essays (titled after F. Scott Fitzgerald) stands out in a crowded field. Though a decade old, it has not lost any of its relevance or punch. Deb profiles a series of unforgettable figures, from a controversial upstart businessman to emigrant engineers, peasant revolutionaries, informal industrial workers, and a waitress who serves the rich and powerful. The book moves seamlessly from the city to the countryside, exposing both the aspirations and the frustrations of capitalism as it is really lived and felt by a wide cross-section of people across India. 

The Beautiful and the Damned

By Siddhartha Deb,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Beautiful and the Damned as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A Globe and Mail Best Books of the Year 2011 Title

Siddhartha Deb grew up in a remote town in the northeastern hills of India and made his way to the United States via a fellowship at Columbia. Six years after leaving home, he returned as an undercover reporter for The Guardian, working at a call center in Delhi in 2004, a time when globalization was fast proceeding and Thomas L. Friedman declared the world flat. Deb's experience interviewing the call-center staff led him to undertake this book and travel throughout the subcontinent.

The Beautiful and the Damned examines India's…


The Troubled Empire

By Timothy Brook,

Book cover of The Troubled Empire: China in the Yuan and Ming Dynasties

Brooks is a Canadian scholar of Chinese history who specializes in the Ming Dynasty. In this work, he offers an overview of the transition from the Mongol Yuan to the Chinese Ming Dynasty, which is the setting for my own writing, and so is a period I consider to be of unrivaled appeal! Brooks studies, among other things, how extreme weather caused political upheaval and why emperors needed to worry when the locals started reporting dragon sightings. He also offers perspective on the autocratic rule of the Ming founder, “the brilliant and ruthless Zhu Yuanzhang,” and how his example impacted the rest of the dynasty.

The Troubled Empire

By Timothy Brook,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Troubled Empire as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Mongol takeover in the 1270s changed the course of Chinese history. The Confucian empire-a millennium and a half in the making-was suddenly thrust under foreign occupation. What China had been before its reunification as the Yuan dynasty in 1279 was no longer what it would be in the future. Four centuries later, another wave of steppe invaders would replace the Ming dynasty with yet another foreign occupation. The Troubled Empire explores what happened to China between these two dramatic invasions. If anything defined the complex dynamics of this period, it was changes in the weather. Asia, like Europe, experienced…


China Made

By Karl Gerth,

Book cover of China Made: Consumer Culture and the Creation of the Nation

Gerth's sweeping research, eye for detail, and beautiful prose help us understand how the rejection of foreign commodities was critical to the creation of Chinese nationalism and state-building in the early twentieth century. Rather than reject consumer culture per se, the Government and businesses pushed the Chinese to consume only "Chinese" goods. This nationalistic consumer culture was built though with the same tools we find in the West--advertising, exhibitions, and fashion. Chinese consumer culture can be seen then as both global and local.

China Made

By Karl Gerth,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked China Made as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"Chinese people should consume Chinese products!" This slogan was the catchphrase of a movement in early twentieth-century China that sought to link consumption and nationalism by instilling a concept of China as a modern "nation" with its own "national products." From fashions in clothing to food additives, from museums to department stores, from product fairs to advertising, this movement influenced all aspects of China's burgeoning consumer culture. Anti-imperialist boycotts, commemorations of national humiliations, exhibitions of Chinese products, the vilification of treasonous consumers, and the promotion of Chinese captains of industry helped enforce nationalistic consumption and spread the message-patriotic Chinese bought…


The Corpse Walker

By Liao Yiwu,

Book cover of The Corpse Walker: Real Life Stories: China from the Bottom Up

The 27 interviews in The Corpse Walker are selected from the 60 interviews in Liao Yiwu’s book, originally titled Interviews with People from the Bottom Rung of Society in Chinese. Liao gives voices to social outcasts: a human trafficker, corpse walkers, a leper, a peasant emperor, an abbot, a mortician, a Tiananmen father, artists and shamans, crooks, even cannibals. Ironically, every one of them speaks more honestly than Chinese official media, which causes the book to be banned in mainland China. These are the stories of unsung heroes and epic tragedies, but to me, most importantly, the work that people performed, the families they raised, many lost to famines, political purges, and massacres, and the persecutors they forgave, the conscience they wrestled with, their past, present, and future—these are the remarkable stories of ordinary Chinese people from 1949 to present in their raw, unvarnished form.

The Corpse Walker

By Liao Yiwu,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Corpse Walker as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Corpse Walker introduces us to regular men and women at the bottom of Chinese society, most of whom have been battered by life but have managed to retain their dignity: a professional mourner, a human trafficker, a public toilet manager, a leper, a grave robber, and a Falung Gong practitioner, among others. By asking challenging questions with respect and empathy, Liao Yiwu managed to get his subjects to talk openly and sometimes hilariously about their lives, desires, and vulnerabilities, creating a book that is an instance par excellence of what was once upon a time called “The New Journalism.”…


The Great Divergence

By Kenneth Pomeranz,

Book cover of The Great Divergence: China, Europe, and the Making of the Modern World Economy

Taking us away from cities, this book will set your eyes on how these cities and their trades fit within a global framework. Kenneth Pomeranz argues that the key was the Americas which allowed Europe to engage in further specialization, and the fortunate location of coal in Britain, the country that started the industrial revolution. This industrial revolution was the key difference that led to the dominance of the West in global affairs.

The Great Divergence

By Kenneth Pomeranz,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Great Divergence as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Great Divergence brings new insight to one of the classic questions of history: Why did sustained industrial growth begin in Northwest Europe, despite surprising similarities between advanced areas of Europe and East Asia? As Ken Pomeranz shows, as recently as 1750, parallels between these two parts of the world were very high in life expectancy, consumption, product and factor markets, and the strategies of households. Perhaps most surprisingly, Pomeranz demonstrates that the Chinese and Japanese cores were no worse off ecologically than Western Europe. Core areas throughout the eighteenth-century Old World faced comparable local shortages of land-intensive products, shortages…


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