This reading list was put together by China veteran Peter Gilmartin for a delegation of American school leaders to China co-led by Primary Source and Alpha Exchange in April 2019.
1. Age of Ambition by Evan Esnos (2014)
A New York Times correspondent chronicles the optimism of modern China and also its disappointments.
2. Betraying Biog Brotherby Leta Hong Fincher (2018)
Through interviews with Chinese feminists the author reveals their struggles and realities.
3. China in Ten Words by Yu Hua (2011)
One of China’s most famous fiction authors uses a few words to explain Chinese culture today.
4. China in the 21st Century (third edition) by Jeffrey Wasserstrom and Maura Cunningham (2018)
Concise up-to-date look at China’s rise, US-China relations and Chinese politics.
5. Chinese Lessons by John Pomfret (2006)
Personal account of five Chinese who author befriended when he was student in Nanjing University and who he visited two decades later.
6. Country Driving by Peter Hessler (2010)
The stories of ordinary Chinese the author meets while driving through China. One of many excellent books on China by Peter Hessler.
7. Dreaming in Chinese by Deborah Fallows (2011)
Learning Chinese in China and the language provides a window into the land and its people.
8. Educating Young Giants by Nancy Pine (2012)
Presents an astute comparison of the two school systems and kids' experiences in the respective classrooms.
9. Factory Girls by Leslie Chang (2008)
Internal migration in China is the story and here the focus is on the experiences of young female factory workers.
10. Little Soldiers by Lenora Chu (2017)
Through the experience of an American by in a Chinese school, this book reveals the successes and shortcomings of Chinese education and the global implications.
11. Modern China: A Very Short Introduction by Rana Mitter (2008)
Excellent primer for locating oneself in today’s China.
12. The China Questions by Jennifer Rudolph and Michael Szonyi (2018)
Collection of short essays by Harvard scholars on problems facing China today.
13. The Souls of China by Ian Johnson (2017)
Looking at spirituality, religion and purpose in the today’s `Chinese society.
14. Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Dragon by Yong Zhao (2014)
How can the Chinese education system be both the best and the worst in the world? A critical look at what the US can learn from China and what China should learn for the US.
15. Wild Swans by Jung Chang (2003)
Story of three generations of Chinese women and through their lives provides insight into modern Chinese history.