A Brief Word From Your Host

I'm grateful for, and engrossed by, the various guest dispatches filling this space this week. Tony Comstock with his ongoing chronicles of the concept of the "adult" and the "indecent" in film making; Ella Chou on what it is like to be the only Chinese citizen in a Harvard class about the Chinese cyber-threat; Lizzy Bennett on a manufacturing comeback in San Francisco; and Brian Glucroft on the parts of China most tourists never see.

In a world of limitless time, I'd steer you to all of their posts -- but, hey, that is what the "previous" button is for. Grateful for them all, I have reasons for additional mention of two.

One is this video from Holland, posted by Tony Comstock and unrelated to his main theme. Of it Joshua Green said simply, "the coolest thing you'll see this week. Guaranteed." Seriously, if you don't see this you will have a less rich idea of life's possibilities.

The other is one of the many pictures Brian Glucroft has posted from non-Beijing, non-Shanghai China. I truly love this photo (click for larger), not simply for its own composition and Bruegelesque detail -- the little girls in mid-jump! -- but also because it captures something I have tried so often to convey in words. When you hear people saying, "Yeah, there are those big cities with their skyscrapers and their bullet trains, but so much of China doesn't look like that," or "If you spend time in China, you take it seriously but you're not so scared of it," or "it's a country of a billion individuals all trying to make their way," it's vistas like this they have in mind. At least that's what I've had in mind when writing or saying such things.


Sure, on occasion the "face of China" can be the Triumph of the Will-style opening of the Olympic Games, or some new 30-lane freeway that appeared overnight. But so very much of it looks just like this.

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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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