You think you've got problems? Consider showing up as a journalist in China and recognizing that there are already so many zillions of books, articles, and analyses about the place that it's hardly worth trying to add to the pile. It is the same sense of doom I often feel when walking into a library, looking down the stacks, and thinking: Why bother?

But here is a recent addition to the China oeuvre that shouldn't go un-noticed. John Pomfret's Chinese Lessons is almost literally the book of a lifetime (Pomfret's). He starts with his classmates at Nanjing University in the early 1980s, and links their disappointments, successes, and failures to the larger changes in China. This is elegantly put-together and thought through, and very much worth reading.

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