Synopses & Reviews
A definitive, and highly entertaining, account of contemporary Beijing, the undisputed capital of the twenty-first century.
Within the past decade, Beijing has debuted as the defining city of the now and foreseeable future, and China as the ascendant global power. Beijing is the ultimate representation of China's political and cultural capital, of its might-and threat. For so long, the city was closed off to the world, literally built around the Forbidden City, the icon of all that was ominous about China. But now, the country is eager to show off its new openness, its glory and magnanimity, and Beijing is its star. When Tom Scocca arrived in 2004-an American eager to see another culture-Beijing was looking toward welcoming the world to its Olympics four years later, and preparations were in full swing to create a renewed city.
Scocca talked to the scientists tasked with changing the weather; interviewed designers and architects churning out projects; checked out the campaign to stop public spitting; documented the planting of trees, the rerouting of traffic, the demolition of the old city, and the construction of the new metropolis. Beijing Welcomes You is a glimpse into the future and an encounter with an urban place we do not yet fully comprehend, and the superpower it is essential we get to know better.
“A revealing and well-written report on what we should know and understand about twenty-first-century China.” — Gay Talese
“Blindingly brilliant insights . . . Scocca writes with grace, texture, nuance, wisdom, and wit. Don’t skim this book, savor it.” — Gene Weingarten
“Wry [and] knowing . . . Beijing Welcomes You is a street-level introduction to a city that’s at once the world’s center and its back office, a place where you can feel ‘on the top of the pile and on the bottom, all at once.’” — The Christian Science Monitor
“Lively . . . [Scocca] has a keen eye for the oddities with which Beijing is abundantly endowed.” — The Washington Post
For centuries, Beijing was closed off to the world, turned inward and literally built around the imperial Forbidden City, the emblem of all that was unknowable about China. But now the capital is reinventing itself to reflect China’s global influence, progress, and prosperity. When Tom Scocca arrived—an American eager to see another culture—Beijing was looking toward welcoming the world to its Olympics, and preparations were in full swing to renew itself.
Scocca discovered a city of contradictions—modern and ancient, friendly yet wary, bold and insecure. He talked to scientists tasked with changing the weather, and interviewed architects; checked out the campaign to stop public spitting; documented the planting of trees, the rerouting of traffic, the demolition of the old city, and the designs of a new metropolis, all the while finding the city more daunting, and more intimate. Beijing Welcomes You is a glimpse into the future and an encounter with an urban place we do not yet fully comprehend, and a superpower it is essential we get to know better.
About the Author
Tom Scocca was the “Off the Record” columnist and media editor for the New York Observer before decamping to Beijing. Before that, he was an editor and writer for Washington City Paper and Baltimore’s City Paper. A Baltimore native, he lives in New York with his wife and son (a Beijing native). He writes the “Scocca” blog for Slate and is the managing editor of Deadspin, and his byline appears regularly in the Boston Globe and the Awl.