3 Good Though Dissimilar Books

What these have in common is only that I've read them recently and think they're good.


From the left:

China in Ten Words, by Yu Hua. The author is celebrated/controversial in China for his novels of the Cultural Revolution era and beyond, notably To Live and Brothers. This new book is an outstanding set of essays on the general topic of why modern China is the way it is, each essay centered on a Chinese word or phrase. Jeffrey Wasserstrom of UC Irvine has an extended appreciation in the LA Review of Books. Very much worth reading.

Palms to Peaks, the Art of Janet Edwards. The author/artist is a designer and painter of California scenes, based in my hometown of Redlands, California. Wherever my family has lived over the years, we have had prints of her mountain, desert, and orange-grove scenes around the house, as evocations of the southland. ESRI, the main tech business of that area, has now put out a gift-book-style album of her works. I did a back-cover blurb for the book, but that is a sign of the sincerity of my admiration.

The North American Idea, by Robert Pastor. The author has been a friend since we were underlings together in the Carter Administration. At the time, he was a specialist in inter-American affairs on the National Security Council. In the years since, as an academic, he has worked on, among other causes, political, commercial, and strategic efforts to make America's position in The Americas a strength, rather than a mere circumstance or an active nuisance. This book knits together his arguments on that theme and is a worthwhile counter the next time you hear about building an electrified fence, plus alligator-moat, to separate ourselves from our neighbors. We're all used to the "Asian model" and the "European Idea"; this offers a counterpart for our hemisphere. 

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James Fallows is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and has written for the magazine since the late 1970s. He has reported extensively from outside the United States and once worked as President Carter's chief speechwriter. His latest book is China Airborne. More

James Fallows is based in Washington as a national correspondent for The Atlantic. He has worked for the magazine for nearly 30 years and in that time has also lived in Seattle, Berkeley, Austin, Tokyo, Kuala Lumpur, Shanghai, and Beijing. He was raised in Redlands, California, received his undergraduate degree in American history and literature from Harvard, and received a graduate degree in economics from Oxford as a Rhodes scholar. In addition to working for The Atlantic, he has spent two years as chief White House speechwriter for Jimmy Carter, two years as the editor of US News & World Report, and six months as a program designer at Microsoft. He is an instrument-rated private pilot. He is also now the chair in U.S. media at the U.S. Studies Centre at the University of Sydney, in Australia.

Fallows has been a finalist for the National Magazine Award five times and has won once; he has also won the American Book Award for nonfiction and a N.Y. Emmy award for the documentary series Doing Business in China. He was the founding chairman of the New America Foundation. His recent books Blind Into Baghdad (2006) and Postcards From Tomorrow Square (2009) are based on his writings for The Atlantic. His latest book is China Airborne. He is married to Deborah Fallows, author of the recent book Dreaming in Chinese. They have two married sons.

Fallows welcomes and frequently quotes from reader mail sent via the "Email" button below. Unless you specify otherwise, we consider any incoming mail available for possible quotation -- but not with the sender's real name unless you explicitly state that it may be used. If you are wondering why Fallows does not use a "Comments" field below his posts, please see previous explanations here and here.


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