Synopses & Reviews
In the tradition of In Patagonia and Great Plains, Michael Meyer's In Manchuria is a scintillating combination of memoir, contemporary reporting, and historical research, presenting a unique profile of China's legendary northeast territory. For three years, Meyer rented a home in the rice-farming community of Wasteland, hometown to his wife's family, and their personal saga mirrors the tremendous change most of rural China is undergoing, in the form of a privately held rice company that has built new roads, introduced organic farming, and constructed high-rise apartments into which farmers can move in exchange for their land rights. Once a commune, Wasteland is now a company town, a phenomenon happening across China that Meyer documents for the first time; indeed, not since Pearl Buck wrote The Good Earth has anyone brought rural China to life as Meyer has here.
Amplifying the story of family and Wasteland, Meyer takes us on a journey across Manchuria's past, a history that explains much about contemporary China-from the fall of the last emperor to Japanese occupation and Communist victory. Through vivid local characters, Meyer illuminates the remnants of the imperial Willow Palisade, Russian and Japanese colonial cities and railways, and the POW camp into which a young American sergeant parachuted to free survivors of the Bataan Death March. In Manchuria is a rich and original chronicle of contemporary China and its people.
"This wonderfully written book is an intriguing blend of immersion journalism, history and a cross-cultural romance. Michael Meyer threw himself into China's fast-disappearing village culture that foreigners virtually never get to see. He has brought it to life with zest, humor and insatiable curiosity, in one of the most unusual and satisfying works on China Ive read. Fittingly for a book centered on a farm, In Manchuria is a feast." —Adam Hochschild, author of King Leopold's Ghost and To End All Wars
"All in all, his record of the dying ways of a city is an impressive feat. And while the phenomenon may be most extreme there, it's not just Beijing's problem. In a way, we're all living on New Ancient Culture Street." —The New York Times Book Review on The Last Days of Old Beijing
"A charming memoir and a compelling work of narrative nonfiction about the city itself . . . Mr. Meyer writes sympathetically of his school, his fellow teachers and his eager pupils, who struggle with a system that rewards rote learning over comprehension. He punctuates his daily-life chronicle with historical vignettes, reaching back to China's imperial days but also capturing the transformations of postwar Beijing." —The Wall Street Journal on The Last Days of Old Beijing
"A mixture of romanticism and Chinese pragmatism and an attractive . . . profile of a city in ceaseless change." —The Chicago Tribune on The Last Days of Old Beijing
A deeply insightful portrait of rural China today, by the acclaimed author of The Last Days of Old Beijing.
A vivid and insightful portrait of China today, as featured on NPRs This American Life, from the acclaimed author of The Last Days of Old Beijing.
About the Author
Michael Meyer first went to China in 1995 with the Peace Corps. The winner of a Lowell Thomas Award for travel writing, Meyer has also won a Whiting Writers' Award for nonfiction and a Guggenheim Fellowship. His stories have appeared in the New York Times, Time, Smithsonian, Sports Illustrated, Slate, the Financial Times, the Los Angeles Times, and the Chicago Tribune. He is the author of The Last Days of Old Beijing, which became a bestseller in China, and he divides his time between Pittsburgh and Singapore.