Monday, November 9, 2020

Review: High Tech and Hot Pot

High Tech and Hot Pot

Stephan Orth

After hosting a Chinese student in his Hamburg flat, Orth decides to embark on a journey across China. Of course, he doesn't divulge to the authorities that he is a journalist. He wants to travel around and try his hand at "couch-surfing" with locals, if possible, to see how they view their own country and the wider world.

I found some of this book interesting, and I'm always amazed at how quickly the Chinese can build and develop sprawling metropolises. It often makes me feel like the West is lagging behind. But as Orth shows while he travels from one large city to another, all the development might come at a price, which made his chapter about searching for Shangri-la all the more enjoyable.

I do wish he had included a map of China for reference; it would have been a great addition. Unfortunately, I didn't feel like this book added anything new about China's development. I liked that the author showed how his hosts were feeling about their own lives and sometimes about how they view the rest of the world. He also dealt a lot with the increasing security surveillance in the country, which some readers will view as a restrictive practice. But, it would be useful to point out that in the West, especially the United States, our habits and movements are tracked by large data companies and credit companies that also, significantly, determine how we can live our lives.

I was hoping for a little more focus on the country's phenomenal economic growth and maybe a bit more about ordinary people and their expectations. To be fair, this is a travelogue, and it does what it claims, it showcases the author's journey from one area to another.

Thanks to Library Thing for allowing me to read this book in exchange for an honest review. 

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