Book Review: “Age of Ambition: Chasing Fortune, Truth, Faith, in the New China” by Evan Osnos

This is a story about the current generation of Chinese in China developing into a country in such a break neck speed that the people and the government can’t seem to adjust fast enough to keep up with it, especially after the cultural revolution that overthrew all the traditional faiths (Taoism, Confucianism, Buddhism and etc.) under the single-party rule (semi-dictatorship) for almost 70 years.

The book consists of three parts: Fortune, Truth and Faith.

Gong Haiyan’s creating the, the biggest matchmaking site on earth.
Li Yang’s Crazy English Institute.
God of Gamblers, Siu Yun-ping, in Macau – owed gambling debts and was contracted triads to hit.
Wealth brought the tourists to the West.

– The censorship is everywhere, including this website blocked in China.
Hu Shuli’s Caijin story.
– Text message about what to censored.
– Lin Zhengyi’s (later changed to Yifei) defection to China from Taiwan in 1979. I had not heard of the story until reading this book. His story was developed throughout the book including his travel to US to World Bank and return to Bejing.
– Dissident Liu Xiaobo’s story including his receiving the Nobel Peace Prize.
The author reported several stories around Ai Wei Wei, whose story I found to be fascinating.
– Han Han – a car racer and a blogger and Crazy English’s teacher.
– Ai WEiwei’s story.
– Chen Guangcheng: As a blind lawyer, he beats the odds of becoming a lawyer, then a civil right advocates, then his eventual departure from China due to persecution.

– The spiritual void created by Communist Party’s domination. Now Confucianism is being advocated.
– Hardware City’s “passing by” highlights the lack of moral standard when Little Yueyue was left to die after being hit by a van.

My key takeaways:
– Interesting stories of the people. The author, like a good New Yorker reporters, is good at telling stories.
– I never thought about the government control can be a hindrance to being creative in arts and technology. Maybe it’ll motivate the government to easy up on censorship.
– This book might serve as a good reminder to the Westerners that China’s Miracle is really not a miracle but so much pain being endured in censorship, and population control, forceful urban control and squashing of dissidents. At some point, the pain may become unbearable and things will change. Probably within 10 years, give or take.