China book roundup of 2007

2007 has seen a mixed bag of books published about China in English: there has not been the range of strong, big books that were published in 2006, but this year has seen a few gems. It is worth noting the rise of a few independent publishers that focus on China; some of their titles are listed below.

Below is a roundup of China books published this year that you may not have read about elsewhere. Below that are the Best and Worst of China Books 2007 Awards, courtesy of Access Asia's Paul French, whose own most recent book Carl Crow, a Tough Old China Hand: The Life, Times, and Adventures of an American in Shanghai you should read if you have not done so yet.

Finally, the books on last year's book roundup on Danwei are also all still well worth reading.


The following three small publishing houses have greatly expanded their operations in the last year and are starting to produce worthwhile books.

ONIB Cover final.jpg

Immersion Guides
The book imprint associated with That's Beijing magazine has published their annual Insider's Guide to Beijing, a guide to Lhasa, a Mandarin phrasebook, two 'restaurant ordering guides' to help non Chinese speakers order 'spicy cuisine' and 'healthy cuisine', and a guide to weekend excursions around Beijing. One Night in Beijing—the book cover featured here—is perhaps their most ambitious project — it's a coffee table book of photographs taken in Beijing over the course of the evening of August 8, 2007, exactly one year before the start of the Olympic Games.


China Economic Review Books
The book publishing arm of Sinomedia has been producing reports, catalogues of foreign companies, media directories and other business books for several years, but they have now started reprinting old books about China whose copyrights have expired, such as the Carl Crow classic pictured here.


Timezone 8
Named after the Pacific time zone GMT+8, this is a book store located in Beijing's 798 Art District, and a book publisher focusing on art, design and architecture in China. If you're in Beijing, the book store is well worth a visit; if you're not in Beijing, check out their website. The pictured book is China (Sur)real, a photo essay by Mark Henley.


China Briefing Books
Although China Briefing's books are published as marketing material for a consulting firm, their series of practical business books is excellent. The volume titled Setting Up Wholly Foreign Owned Entrerprises in China is a no-nonsense guide to the process that could save thousands—or for the more naive, tens of thousands—of dollars in consulting fees. They have also recently published The Story of a China Practice by the firm's founder Chris Devonshire-Ellis who set up his China consulting firm in 1992, and a travel guide Ulaan Baatar and the Mongolian Countryside.



China's Brave New World by Jeffrey N. Wasserstrom
Essays and stories by a Sinologist and history professor about urban, cosmopolitan China.

The Search for a Vanishing Beijing by M.A. Aldrich
Subtitled 'A guide to China's Capital Through the Ages' this is a compendium of stories, historical anecdotes, and guided walks through old Beijing. A must have for the Peking-obsessive.



Doing Business In China: How to Profit in the World's Fastest Growing Market by Ted Plafker
A no-nonsense guide to doing business in China for the novice by a veteran business writer and longtime Beijing correspondent for The Economist.

The Little Red Book of China Business by Sheila Melvin
A readable business how-to-guide that uses quotations from the Chairman''s Little Red Book to illustrate its lessons.



The Last Days of Old Beijing—Life in the Backstreets of a Changing City by Michael Meyer
"The epitaph for old Beijing will read: born in 1280, died in 2008…what emperors, warlords, Japanese invaders, and Communist planners couldn’t eradicate, the market economy is,” writes Meyer — see this Danwei TV interview for more about him and his upcoming book.

Silicon Dragon: How China Is Winning the Tech Race by Rebecca Fannin
An optimistic look at China's IT and technology industries that may unsettle the odd American.


The Forbidden City by Geremie R. Barmé
A history of the imperial palace that will probably include stories you are unlikely to ever hear on the Forbidden City's official audio tour.

by Paul French of Access Asia

The Best China Books of 2007


The Great Wall of China—China Against the World, 1000 BC - 2000 AD by Julia Lovell
Proves academics can write engrossing books about China.

Getting Rich First: Life in a Changing China by Duncan Hewitt
People oriented and nice to see some Shanghai analysis after all the Beijing-centric books last year.

Struggling Giant: China in the 21st Century by Kerry Brown
Short, sweet and to the point.

China Road: A Journey into the Future of a Rising
by Rob Gifford
Starts badly but gets into its stride and gets better.

The Dragon and the Foreign Devils: China and the World, 1100 BC to the Present by Harry Gelber
Some nice essays that provoke thought even for the most jaded China Hands.

The Worst China Books of 2007

The Writing on the Wall by Will Hutton
One US journo who interviewed him described him as 'A facile, quasi-leftish bloviator who doesn't deign to get his hands dirty with too much actual reporting.' Can't top that.

The Elephant & the Dragon: The Rise of India and China and What It Means for All of Us by Robyn Meredith
... And all the other passengers on the Chindia Gravy Train

China Vignettes: An Inside Look at China by Dominic Barton
McKinsey's China Chief shows that you might want to think carefully before giving them a big donation.

Best Books not about China but that offer some usefully applicable guidance

Asian Godfathers: Money and Power in Hong Kong and Southeast Asia
by Joe Studwell
Dodgy overseas Chinese tycoons cosying up to Beijing.

Rocks and Hard Places: The Globalisation of Mining by Roger Moody
Strip miners from China and elsewhere rape the land with gay abandon.

Six Degrees: Our Future on a Hotter Planet by Mark Lynas
Lays out just how China will really change as the seas rise.

Deluxe: How Luxury Lost Its Luster by Dana Thomas
Blows the gaff on the luxury con in China.

Murder in Samarkand: A British Ambassador's Controversial Defiance of Tyranny in the War on Terror by Craig Murray
Just how repressive can members of the Shanghai 5 get?

There are currently 1 Comments for China book roundup of 2007.

Comments on China book roundup of 2007

I already saw a fake Insight Guide to Beijing cuisine on sale at Wangfujing Books - same layout, same concept, but definitely cheaper.
Not sure how accurate it is though, it bears checking.
I like the concept of the spicy food book. I think it will be useful, perhaps even in Toronto!

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