That Was Then. This is Mao.

I find the Western world's influence on Asian tastes in youth culture and fashion quite puzzling. Why, for instance, do Chinese pop stars dress like The Jets in "West Side Story" instead of some Shanghai stylist's spin on an infinitely tougher and culturally more relevant horde of Manchurian badasses? If it works for The Wu Tang Clan, why not Zheng Yuan Chang?

Turns out the answer to that one is in this book:

"China Road" is NPR correspondent Rob Gifford's take on the people, places and politics that make this rising power tick. I've been quizzing my Chinese friends about their country and their culture for 23 years, and I know less about them and their motherland than Mr. Gifford illustrates in 23 chapters. If the Beijing Olympics made you look, "China Road" will make you think.


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