Please feel free to post your reviews in the comments area.
China Inc., Ted Fishman – One of my favorites from the crowd. Fishman talks about how Chinese are inherently entreprenuerial; in their DNA, so to speak. This book is an interesting read; lots of examples of businesses on the ground level. Talks about the “sock city”, how one successful sock factory attracts competitors overnight, turning the city to the world’s largest producer of socks. Great story-teller too, so you won’t feel bored. Highly Recommended.
One Billion Customers, James McGregor – This one is written from a much higher level, talking about MNCs doing business in China and the complex regulatory environment one needs to overcome. Overarching theme about how the Chinese government is mercenary – “using” foreigners and leaving them dry. For me, McGregor’s writing seems superficial; he also tries to give practical advises, which, in my opinion, will not work in a fluid business environment such as China. Not worth your time
Three Billion New Capitalists, Clyde Prestowitz – I must confess that I am still trying to work through this book; Supposedly a good viewpoint about globalization. Will pick it up again soon… Don’t know yet, but a difficult read
Billions: Selling to the New Chinese Customers, Tom Doctoroff and Martin Sorrell - This is really a marketing book, talking about Chinese consumers and what motivates their purchases. Excellent job in psychoanalyzing different classes of consumers; also lots of examples, so easy to follow. Fun, easy read. Recommended
Mr. China, Tim Clissold – If I could summarize it… it is about Clissold’s bitter journey through China; the struggles and roadblocks that he ran into… experiencing capitalism in the very raw sense. Dirty competitive tactics, empty promises, you know what… Bear in mind this is a decade ago, although I suspect much is still the same in less developed villages – Reminds us that China is still much of an emerging country. If nothing else, this is quite entertaining. Recommended.
Zhang Xin: On Return to China, Ingrid Li - This is a working biography of a Chinese business woman, Zhang Xin. Particularly interesting since it follows the path of a young Chinese entreprenuer, something that’s quite refreshing and not widely written about. Li also provided social contexts and historical references surrounding Zhang’s journey. While the topic is narrow and niche, it is a quick and engrossing read. Recommended
China Shakes the World, James Kynge – This is a good introductory book summarizing the opportunities and challenges in China today. This is one of the few books that feels objective; and one that describes the practical challenges in China without a critical eye (most books tend to place way too much emphasis on ideological matters). Personally, I feel this book is a bit basic; if you have lived in China for an extended period of time, you will likely feel the same way. The book is extremely well written though. - Recommended with some reservations
The China Executive, The China Executive, Wei Wang – Very basic book. You can find the same information from searching on Google. Not worth your time.
The Elephant and The Dragon: The Rise of India and China, Robyn Meredith – I bought this book mainly to understand India, and how that compares to China in terms of economic development. I’d have to say I am quite disappointed as I read through it – the author makes superficial comments about a wide range of current issues in both countries, often offering unsubstantiated opinions. Great concept, but poorly executed. - Not worth your time.
A Bull in China: Investing Profitably in the World’s Greatest Market, Jim Rogers - Perhaps I was expecting too much… This is really a China Investing 101 book. More a user-manual. If you’re looking to invest in Asia and wants to know the basics, it’s a good place to start. It tells you the difference between A, B and H shares… and gives really basic overview of a select number of industries. 1/3 of the book are “stock picks” which seems like random selection of stocks with almost no analysis. A bit disappointed here. – Not worth your time.
Tomorrow’s Gold: Asia’s Age of Discovery, Marc Fabar – I read it so long ago I almost forgot about it until a friend started reading it recently. This is an amazing book. If you’re interested in economic and social history, macroeconomics and how markets blossom and bust, this is a must. I cannot endorse it stronger – Highly Recommended.
Managing the Dragon, Jack Perkowski – An excellent book about building a business in China as an outsider. The first half is a record of Jack’s journey in building an auto-part manufacturer, ASIMCO. The second half, which can actually be read separately, contains thoughtful analyses of China’s business conditions. See full review here. – Highly recommended.
Ma Jun, Jack (in Chinese) - Book about Jack Ma, the founder and CEO of Alibaba. It is a very interesting read since it gives the perspective of a successful Chinese entprenuer. Jack Ma is revered in China the same way Bill Gates or Jack Welch is in the US. He’s seen as an example of how local Chinese entreprenuers can defeat US competitors (eBay, Yahoo). I wish they translate one of the books into English!
Rupert Murdoch’s China Adventures, Bruce Dover – Interesting insider’s perspective on Murdoch’s journey in China. Since we are not Murdoch, and not News Corp, the context will not be all that useful. However, if you would like to learn more about Murdoch as a media mogul (last one standing, perhaps), the book is entertaining enough, and worth a read. – Recommended.
Factory Girls: From Village to City in a Changing China, Leslie Chang – Leslie provides a glimpse into the lives of migrant female workers in Dongguan. You might not have thought so before, but the lives of these migrant workers are actually quite intriguing. Gives one perspective into lives affected by the changes in China today. Interesting read, although the book could have used some editing. I would recommend skimming at a bookstore… Recommended (with reservations)
China Road, Rob Gifford – Gifford documented his trip on Route 312, a road that connects Shanghai all the way through what used to be Turkestan. Gifford is an NPR correspondant, and an incredible reporter. This is an interesting travel journal and gives insights to how rapid change in China is affecting the peasants in rural areas. Quite a unique perspective. I would recommend to anyone who is interested in the social changes in modern China – Highly Recommended
Red Azalea, Anchee Min – First person narrative of life during Cultural Revolution. I have read a few of these accounts before – I do like this one because it focuses on the author over a period of time and is thus very personal. Recommended
Yao, A Life in Two Worlds, Yao Ming & Ric Bucher - This book is suprisingly good. Yao talks quite a bit about differences between the West and the East, from a very personal and cultural perspective. Insightful and quick read. Highly Recommended.
Prisoner of the State: The Secret Journal of Premier Zhao Ziyang, Zhao Ziyang, Bao Pu, Renee Chiang, and Adi Ignatius – (Pending)
Here are translated Chinese books I have read. I don’t read nearly enough Chinese novels, so this list is quite short.
To Live (活着), Yu Hua - Highly Recommended
Waiting, Ha Jin – Recommended