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Age of Ambition: Book summary and reviews of Age of Ambition by Evan Osnos

Age of Ambition

Chasing Fortune, Truth, and Faith in the New China

by Evan Osnos

Age of Ambition by Evan Osnos X
Age of Ambition by Evan Osnos
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Book Summary

From abroad, we often see China as a caricature: a nation of pragmatic plutocrats and ruthlessly dedicated students destined to rule the global economy - or an addled Goliath, riddled with corruption and on the edge of stagnation. What we don't see is how both powerful and ordinary people are remaking their lives as their country dramatically changes.

As the Beijing correspondent for The New Yorker, Evan Osnos was on the ground in China for years, witness to profound political, economic, and cultural upheaval. In Age of Ambition, he describes the greatest collision taking place in that country: the clash between the rise of the individual and the Communist Party's struggle to retain control. He asks probing questions: Why does a government with more success lifting people from poverty than any civilization in history choose to put strict restraints on freedom of expression? Why do millions of young Chinese professionals - fluent in English and devoted to Western pop culture - consider themselves "angry youth," dedicated to resisting the West's influence? How are Chinese from all strata finding meaning after two decades of the relentless pursuit of wealth?

Writing with great narrative verve and a keen sense of irony, Osnos follows the moving stories of everyday people and reveals life in the new China to be a battleground between aspiration and authoritarianism, in which only one can prevail.

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Book Awards

  • award image National Book Awards, 2014

Reviews

Media Reviews

"Starred Review. Osnos combines scintillating reportage with an eye for telling ironies that illuminate broader trends; without downplaying the uniqueness of Chinese society, he makes its tensions feel achingly familiar for Western readers." - Publishers Weekly

"Pleasant, peripatetic musings revealing a great deal about the Chinese character." - Kirkus

"The best book on China I've ever read. Witty, indispensable, and often moving. I look forward to stealing Evan Osnos's wisdom and passing it off as my own for years to come." - Gary Shteyngart, author of Little Failure and Super Sad True Love Story

"The rise of China is the biggest story of the past twenty-five years. Evan Osnos captures the country in all its striving, thunderous diversity, through a narrative that moves, provokes, and makes us laugh. Age of Ambition is a marvel of great reporting, careful thinking, and powerful writing." - Dexter Filkins, author of The Forever War

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Author Information

Evan Osnos

Evan Osnos is a staff writer at The New Yorker, where he served as the China correspondent from 2008 to 2013. He is the winner of two Overseas Press Club awards and the Asia Society's Osborn Elliott Prize for Excellence in Journalism on Asia. Previously, he worked at the Chicago Tribune, where he was part of a team that won the Pulitzer Prize for investigative reporting in 2008. He lives in Washington, D.C.

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