From Chicken Feet to Crystal Baths

Ian Mote (2015) 472 pages

British businessman and author Ian Mote describes his experiences of Chinese life. Ian has travelled and done business all over China and relates a host of fascinating stories about his experiences in Shanghai and all over the country, including weddings and festivals, family life and work.

My Country and My People

Lin Yutang (1936) 349 pages
William Heinemann

Lin Yutang is the Harvard-educated Nobel Prize-nominated inventor of the Chinese printing press as well as the author of arguably the definitive work on the Chinese mentality. My Country and My People offers piercing insight into the character and personality of Chinese people, and because it is written with the purpose of explaining China and its people to Westerners, it is a must-read for expats coming to Shanghai.

One Billion Customers: Lessons from the Front Lines of Doing Business in China

James McGregor (2007) 312 pages
Free Press and Simon & Schuster

One Billion Customers is widely praised as essential reading for those going to China to do business. McGregor’s work is both colorful and cautionary and offers nuggets of wisdom and engrossing case studies that are as insightful as they are valuable.

Mr China: A Memoir

Tim Clissold (2006) 288 pages
Harper Paperbacks

Arriving in China in the early 1990s, Tim Clissold teamed up with an entrepreneur to buy shares in Chinese companies in order to make them more profitable. His account of the experience of doing business in China is a must-read for those seeking to set up a joint venture or who will be employed by one.

Poorly Made in China: An Insider’s Account of the Tactics Behind China’s Production Game

Paul Midler (2009) 241 pages
John Wiley & Sons

Voted best book of 2009 by the Economist, Poorly Made in China is a must-read for business people looking to outsource manufacturing to China. Midler offers insightful commentary based on first-hand experience which both enlightens and entertains. In addition, the book has many laugh-out-loud moments that highlight the clash of cultures between East and West.

Factory Girls: From Village to City in A Changing China

Leslie Chang (2008) 448 pages
Speigel & Grau

Former Beijing correspondent for the Wall Street Journal Leslie Chang spent three years following the lives of two teenage girls who migrated from their village along with 130 million others in China to work in the factories of urban centers. Her account of the successes, trials and heartbreaks of the girls is a great way to understand what life is like for the majority of Chinese people.

Building Shanghai: The Story of China’s Gateway

Edward Denison & Guang Yuren (2006) 258 pages

The Guardian called Denison’s work a breathtaking case study of Shanghai in which he combines unseen archive material and pho- tography with excellent research to reveal the correlations between Shanghai’s history and its present-day development.

China Candid: The People on the People’s Republic of China

Sang Ye (2006) 363 pages
University of California Press

Sang Ye, a leading Chinese journalist, compiled a series of intimate interviews with a wide array of ordinary Chinese people over many years in order to portray a compelling alternative history of China from the creation of the communist state to the present.

Carl Crow, A Tough Old China Hand: The Life, Times and Adventures of an American in Shanghai

Paul French (2007) 324 pages
Hong Kong University Press

French’s biography of Carl Crow, the author of the predecessor to One Billion Customers (titled 400 Million Customers), is both a story of the rise and fall of Shanghai and a vivid, amusing account of the man who arrived in the city in 1911 and carved himself a page in its history.

Shanghai: The Rise And Fall of a Decadent City

Stella Dong (2000) 336 pages
Harper Perennial

Dong’s vivid account of the wild days of Shanghai when it earned the monikers ‘whore of Asia’ and the ‘Sodom and Gomorrah of the Far East’ fosters an understanding of why Chinese people regard this period so negatively. She effectively shows how the arrogance and opulence of foreigners helped pave the way for the ascendance of communism in China.

Think Like Chinese

Zhang Haihua and Geoff Baker (2008) 194 pages
Federation Press

Think Like Chinese explains Chinese thought and business culture from the Chinese perspective. Zhang and Baker show how Chinese language, history, philosophy and ethics continue to shape beliefs in modern China. They share their experiences and observations, garnered from years of investing and managing businesses in China, and provide strategies for overcoming the cultural barrier. (Review courtesy Federation Press)

China: Portrait of a People

Tom Carter (2010) 638 pages
Blacksmith Books

Carter’s beautiful and elegant photo essay reveals the incredible diversity of China’s 56 ethnic groups and informs the reader that China is more like Europe than it is one homogenous state.

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