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China Airborne: The Test of China's Future (Vintage)by James Fallows
Synopses & Reviews
More than two-thirds of the new airports under construction today are being built in China. Chinese airlines expect to triple their fleet size over the next decade and will account for the fastest-growing market for Boeing and Airbus. But the Chinese are determined to be more than customers. In 2011, China announced its Twelfth Five-Year Plan, which included the commitment to spend a quarter of a trillion dollars to jump-start its aerospace industry. Its goal is to produce the Boeings and Airbuses of the future. Toward that end, it acquired two American companies: Cirrus Aviation, maker of the world’s most popular small propeller plane, and Teledyne Continental, which produces the engines for Cirrus and other small aircraft.
In China Airborne, James Fallows documents, for the first time, the extraordinary scale of this project and explains why it is a crucial test case for China’s hopes for modernization and innovation in other industries. He makes clear how it stands to catalyze the nation’s hyper-growth and hyper-urbanization, revolutionizing China in ways analogous to the building of America’s transcontinental railroad in the nineteenth century. Fallows chronicles life in the city of Xi’an, home to more than 250,000 aerospace engineers and assembly workers, and introduces us to some of the hucksters, visionaries, entrepreneurs, and dreamers who seek to benefit from China’s pursuit of aerospace supremacy. He concludes by examining what this latest demonstration of Chinese ambition means for the United States and the rest of the world — and the right ways to understand it.
“Fallows keeps the reader engaged by weaving personal stories and lively personalities into his depiction of the changing aerospace landscape…his book makes for an intriguing read, looking at both sides of the picture: reasons for why China might succeed, as well as those for why the country might struggle.” Publishers Weekly
“Prescient....Highly readable and significant, Fallows’ book should not be missed by those seeking to understand America’s relationship with this global power.” Booklist, starred review
“Precise yet accessible....An enjoyable, important update on an enigmatic economic giant.” Kirkus
“Will China change the 21st century, or be changed by it? China Airborne describes a country ambitiously soaring to fantastic new heights even as its destination remains perilously uncertain. James Fallows reports elegantly on the puzzles and paradoxes of this massive nation and its quest for global prominence.” Patrick Smith, author of Somebody Else’s Century
“James Fallows has found a brilliant metaphor for China, and he is uniquely qualified to unspool the tale. Based on years of firsthand experience on the ground in China — and in cockpits around the world — this book showcases his gifts for deep reporting and analysis. Fallows doesn't simply bear witness; he unravels and dissects. For this vast country to achieve a leading role in the aerospace industry, it must attain standards of innovation, efficiency and precision that would signal a new era in the rise of a superpower. Has it attained that level? There is no better writer to find the answer, and Fallows has done it.” Evan Osnos, contributor to The New Yorker
“Not only does the book benefit from Fallows’ keen observations as a journalist in China, but also it is enriched by his technical knowledge as a passionate aviator. The result is informative and lively.” The Economist
“What sets China Airborne apart from other books on China's rise is Fallows' remarkable ability to analyze both China's unprecedented achievements in economic modernization and its inherent limitations....The story so brilliantly told in China Airborne, a metaphor for the much bigger story of China's rise, suggests that no one should take its future as a superpower for granted.” San Francisco Chronicle
“Fallows has an earthy, engaging style, and he sees the human stories of government officials, entrepreneurs, workers and intellectuals all pursuing the dreams they have for themselves and their country as they take off together into the skies....The book is accessible in different ways to different people. Sinologists and aviation geeks like me will happily pore through Mr. Fallows' detailed endnotes, trapped at the back where they won't bother casual readers. People looking for a grab buy at the airport will find something light that will also make them think. Businesspeople, students, or tourists going to China can pick this up and get a good grip on the Chinese zeitgeist.” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
From one of our most influential journalists, here is a timely, vital, and illuminating account of the next stage of China’s modernization — its plan to rival America as the world’s leading aerospace power and to bring itself from its low-wage past to a high-tech future.
In 2011, China announced its twelfth Five-Year Plan, which included the commitment to spend a quarter of a trillion dollars to jump-start its aerospace industry. In China Airborne, James Fallows documents, for the first time, the extraordinary scale of China’s project, making clear how it stands to catalyze the nation’s hyper-growth and hyper-urbanization, revolutionizing China in ways analogous to the building of America’s transcontinental railroad in the nineteenth century.
Completing this remarkable picture, Fallows chronicles life in the city of Xi’an, home to 250,000 aerospace engineers and assembly-line workers, and introduces us to some of the hucksters, visionaries, entrepreneurs, and dreamers who seek to benefit from China’s pursuit of aeronautical supremacy. He concludes by explaining what this latest demonstration of Chinese ambition means for the United States and for the rest of the world — and the right ways for us to respond.
About the Author
James Fallows is a national correspondent for The Atlantic. He has reported from around the world and has worked in software design at Microsoft, as the editor of U.S. News & World Report, and as a speechwriter for President Jimmy Carter. He is currently a news analyst for NPR’s Weekend All Things Considered and a visiting professor at the University of Sydney.
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