Saturday, August 13, 2011

Why China Will Never Rule the World

Why China Will Never Rule the World: Travels in Two Chinas by Troy Parfitt is a well-written, informative, and sometimes convincing book about China. Parfitt effortlessly strings together tales about his travels littering it with history and anecdotes that were new to me. There's no doubt that Parfitt is a well-read writer.

Saying all of that, Why China Will Never Rule the World is one of the most ridiculous books I've ever read.

Whatever positives can be found in the book are more than offset by the hostility and one-sidedness Paritt shows towards China. Parfitt doesn't get close to a nuanced view of China even once in his book. Parfitt hates traveling and living in China, shows a real disdain for Chinese people, and loathes everything about the country's culture and history. Written without the slightest hint of balance, Parfitt's book reads like Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged and Jung Chang's Mao: The Unknown Story, two of the most unenjoyable books I've encountered.

After struggling through Parfitt's 400-page diatribe, I give Why China Will Never Rule the World a resounding two thumbs down and cannot recommend avoiding it highly enough.

8/20/2011 - Edit: I've realized in the past week that I'm not big into writing overwhelmingly negative reviews of other people's work, like the one I wrote about this book. Writing such a stinging review was a first for me. Parfitt and I ended up leaving each other a string of comments questioning and criticizing what the other had written. We were speaking over each other and were getting nowhere.

I just don't have the stomach for this kind of stuff in my free time and have never wanted this blog to be a venue for bitter and divisive arguments. There's enough of that already on the internet. This blog is something I do for enjoyment and regret that it got as sour as it did.

I stand by what I initially wrote in my review. At the same time, I began to feel that initial post and the comments Troy and I left for each other made both of us look bad. I've decided getting into a drag-out war with someone over a book in which I have no stake in is not a good use of my time or energy. I can't believe how much time I've spent going back over this book, one I didn't enjoy, to argue with the author.

I will leave the lede to this post summing up my thoughts to the book, but have deleted the rest of the post and all comments. Comments are closed.

8/20/2011 - Second Edit: Troy wrote this comment as I was writing the "edit" above. I will publish what he wrote here:
Mark and I have come to the conclusion that we hold different truths about the nature of this book and think it best not to continue debating it. So, in the spirit of the China debate, Canada-US relations, world peace, and so on, we're going to stop trading comments. Life's too short, and all that jazz. I'd like to thank him again for reading my book, and am sorry he didn't like it. It is tough in places, I admit. Thanks again, Mark.