Inside the Red Mansion
By Oliver August
In 1999, shortly after arriving in Beijing as The Times's China correspondent, Oliver August set out on the trail of China's most wanted man, Lai Changxing. An illiterate peasant from the coastal city of Xiamen, Lai created his own shipping empire from nothing before vanishing abruptly when the Communist Party accused him of corruption and fraud. Once the richest man in the country, Lai was now public enemy number one because his immense wealth became a threat to Beijing's power.Oliver August's highly entertaining search for Lai takes him to the brothels, backwaters and boardrooms that define the spirit of an emerging nation. Fascinated by Lai's story, the author visits the town where he was born, travels on the boat used by his smuggling racket and stays in the hotel where government investigators interrogated and tortured his helpers. The book investigates the tycoon's meteoric rise, his catastrophic demise and the mystery that surrounds his disappearance. After two decades of capitalist reforms, the New China seems to have more clichés than people. Both free and oppressive, anarchic and authoritarian, totally chaotic yet highly regulated, China is changing completely whilst seeming to stay itself. Part investigation, part personal memoir, Inside the Red Mansion is a deeply atmospheric journey into the New China. From the austere bureaucrats of Beijing to the gilded pirate coast opposite Taiwan; from the Gobi desert plains where migrant labour is recruited, to the skyscrapers and nightclubs of boomtowns like Xiamen, Oliver August's gripping yet thoughtful account reveals the dark side of China's economic miracle and a nation finally awakening to its desires.
In Search of the English Eccentric
By Henry Hemming
The English eccentric is under threat. In our increasingly homogenised society, these celebrated parts of our national identity are anomalies that may soon no longer fit. Or so it seems. On his entertaining and thought-provoking quest to discover the most eccentric English person alive today, Henry Hemming unearths a surprisingly large array of delightfully odd characters. He asks what it is to be an eccentric. Is it simply to thrive on creativity and non-conformity, and where does this incarnation of Englishness stem from? Hemming concludes that this tribe is, in fact, in rude health, as essential as ever to the English national identity, only they are no longer to be found where youd expect them.
By Yale Richmond
Across the globe, Africa is seen as the final frontier for economic development and has experienced renewed attention from both Western and Eastern nations, particularly in the last decade. The U.S., India, China and parts of Europe have all increased foreign direct investment in Africa, and yet the complexity and diversity of this vast continent pose risks and challenges for those investments. For more than a decade, Into Africa has provided valuable advice to those who are interested in traveling to, living in or working in sub-Saharan Africa-businesspeople, human rights and development workers, diplomats, academics and trainers-and anyone else who seeks a better understanding of the cultural characteristics of this dynamic part of the world. With depth and sensitivity, Into Africa examines the effects of community, ethnicity and language on doing business and establishing professional and personal relationships in African countries. The book explores regional differences, offers detailed guidelines for conducting training programs in Africa and examines issues that reflect the complex relationships involved. This new and expanded edition of Into Africa brings a fresh view on sub-Saharan Africa, showing how the nations of Africa have adapted to Western ways while retaining their cultural traditions and diversity. Authors Yale Richmond and Phyllis Gestrin explore contemporary Africa in great depth, discussing increased trade with the U.S. and Europe, the role of politics and business, changes in mass communication and the continuing threat of HIV/AIDS. A thorough, lively and carefully researched book, Into Africa is the perfect companion for anyone wishing to gain a more rounded perception of Africa and its diverse cultures.