Saturday, May 7, 2011

Trump's China Reading List

One of my favorite bloggers/thinkers in the world, Nate Silver from and now the NY Times, recently described Donald Trump and Sarah Palin's "obvious constituency" within the republican party as "the low-information voter." That made me laugh.

An article from the LA Times (h/t Ray Kwong) that I read this week makes it look as though Donald Trump isn't quite as as low-information as Sarah Palin, though. He's at least read a few books.

Trump recently gave China's Xinhua News a list of his "Top 20 China books." As a HUGE China book nerd, I have to say, he has a surprisingly impressive list:
1. "The Party" by Richard McGregor
2. "On China" by Henry Kissinger
3. "Mao: The Untold Story" by Jung Chang
4. "Tide Players" by Jianying Zha
5. "One Billion Customers" by James McGregor
6. "The Coming China Wars" by Peter W. Navarro
7. "The Beijing Consensus" by Stefan Halper
8. "China CEO" by Juan Antonio Fernandez and Laurie Underwood
9. "Poorly Made in China" by Paul Midler
10. "CHINA: Portrait of a People" by Tom Carter
11. "The Man Who Loved China" by Simon Winchester
12. "China Shakes the World" by James Kynge
13. "Mr. China" by Tim Clissold
14. "Country Driving" by Peter Hessler
15. "The Dragon's Gift" by Deborah Brautigam
16. "Factory Girls" by Leslie T. Chang
17. "The Heavenly Man" by Brother Yun
18. "1421" by Gavin Menzies
19. "Seven Years in Tibet" by Heinrich Harrer
20. "Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother" by Amy Chua

Read On
There are a couple questionable books on this list. The widely criticized Mao: The Untold Story, for instance, reads like an Ayn Rand novel and should not be #3. But I'm nitpicking here. I'm impressed that Trump has read The Party, Country Driving, Factory Girls, and Kissinger's On China (a book that I'll be reviewing here on the blog next week).

The Donald is definitely no Sarah Palin.

Saying that, I have not enjoyed at all the venom that Trump has brought to the political scene since he began exploring his presidential ambitions. The racist undertones of the "birther" movement that he's exhorted highlight some of the worst undercurrents of America.

I don't think Trump is going to factor much in next year's presidential election. He may very well run, but I don't see him being able to pull off a real campaign. For example:

He is cleverly capitalizing on having his name in the news for his trash television shows, though. He's great at pushing his brand and attracting attention (hence, this blog post). I'll give him that.


Ramesh said...

Hate to be a cynical sob, but I have to think that somebody gave Trump this list. I am having extreme difficulty in believing that he has read them all.

The one thing that's a bit depressing about the US these days is the depth that the politics is descending into. Jimmy Carter said it openly and politically incorrectly, but I think a bit truthfully - the amount of venom against Obama seems to be influenced by his race.

Mark said...

You could be right on, Ramesh. Would not be shocked at all if this list is fake. I know that he has done tons of business with China and could, feasibly, read lots of books on China. Your skepticism is justified, though.

There's no doubt that Obama's race upsets some people to their core. It's incredible America elected a black man in the first place. But there is certainly great resentment amongst many Americans.

Anonymous said...

Mark, several of the books on this list are brand-new releases and/or aren't even on the marketplace yet, which leads ME to believe that this was a good old corporate marketing gimmick. Not to mention that Amy Chua is not Chinese nor does her book have anything to do with China, which also leads me to believe that Chua's publicists probably paid Trump, Inc. to include her book on the list (just as Chua's publicists paid for all her other high-profile publicity). Nonetheless, there are several superb books on this list that ought to be read by anyone interested in China.

Anonymous said...

Once again, Ramesh has managed to say exactly what I was going to say! I immediately thought this was BS. I'd bet a boatload of money that not only has Trump not read these 20 books, but that he hasn't read any of them. Not one. Well maybe number 5 on that list... maybe.

This reads like a westerner's "must read about China" list that you might find on amazon. And I like how the LA Times article says he "reportedly" has read these books, nothing they confirmed. Granted they appear to be lifting this second hand from Xinhua, but something smells fishy. Surprised Superfusion wasn't on there. And where's Expressing the Orient!

As much as I hate the whole birther crap and the unfair shake that Obama has gotten, I disagree on the birther issue being a race issue. Obama's father was not born here, that's what freaks em out. If say Herman Cain or Jesse Jackson were elected president, there wouldn't be a birther issue. I don't think it's a race issue, and I think the left is a bit guilty of playing this card unfairly. Both sides take the easy out in my opinion and I echo Ramesh's comments about the low depths it has all sunk to.

p.s. #11 on the list of books that Trump hasn't read is outstanding.

Mark said...

I see what you guys are saying on this being a thrown together by someone else list.

Seems somewhat random to do it, though. It's not as if Mr. and Mrs. Joe Sixpack low-information republican primary voter is necessarily going to impressed that Trump has read "The Party." Maybe this list is trying to out-flank Jon Huntsman?

And George W. Bush, who apparently is a voracious reader (I suppose that could be questioned), showed me that people who read alot aren't necessarily more enlightened than anyone else.

So, to me, Trump being an idiot doesn't necessarily mean he doesn't read.

And I disagree with you, Hopfrog, about the birther movement not being racist. There's no doubt in my mind that Obama's skin color rubs A LOT of Americans the wrong way. Trump is specifically trying to stir such sentiment when he brings up previously debunked claims that Obama wasn't born in the US.

Anonymous said...

@Mark, There isn't any doubt in my mind either that his skin color rubs a lot of these people the wrong way, I just don't think that his skin color is what motivates the birther issue. If Jesse Jackson were elected, sure a lot of people out there would dislike him because of his skin color, but I don't think we would see his citizenship questioned. I don't think all the birthers were racially motivated.

They just want to attack a liberal president no matter what his skin color is. Very little doubt in my mind that if a white liberal president was in the same situation, they would have questioned his citizenship as well. Look at how voraciously George Bush was attacked over his National Guard service record. Same crap in my opinion.

The motivations to me seem, for the most part, political.

Anonymous said...

Gawd, I feel sorry for him and his ignorance.