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What made the experience of listening to Dealing with China the most enjoyable?
This amazing book gleaned from over 100 visits to China is truly an inside story. It is a very personal account of Hank Paulson's three different roles interacting with the most influential leaders in China during its years of rapid economic development. First, as CEO of Goldman Sachs, playing the role of investment banker taking inefficient state-owned enterprises (SOE's) public and counseling Chinese leaders on need for financial accuracy in order to attract investors. Second, as statesman and Secretary of the Treasury for George Bush, meeting the financial crisis in the United States while assuring the Chinese of our ultimate recovery to prevent dumping of their U.S. investments. Third, as environmentalist for the Nature Conservancy in China, counselor to Chinese environmentalists and urban planners, and founder of the Paulson Institute,Hank and his wife Wendy continue their passion for preservation of China's open space and curtailment of pollution.
What other book might you compare Dealing with China to and why?
An earlier reading of Henry Kissinger's "On China" gave an excellent background of the historical background of the country and its unique cultural characteristics, from ancient civilization through classical empire, to Communist state. His accounts as U.S. Secretary of State during President Nixon's visit to China and subsequent events give an authoritative account of engagement with China. Later, Kissinger's book on "World Order" draws contemporary comparisons with other countries, falling short in details on China as he lumps it in with the overall Asian region.
What does Kevin Stillwell bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?
Kevin Stillwell's vigorous and emphatic narration brings out the self-confident nature and negotiating ability of Paulson that complements his persistent efforts to always reach "win-win" results for both sides. Also, although difficult for an English speaker to keep them straight, Stillwell rattles off the Chinese leader's names with apparent accuracy without interrupting the flow of the narrative.
What’s the most interesting tidbit you’ve picked up from this book?
One of the most interesting stories came when Paulson and another Goldman employee were in a plane with only a pilot headed for Hong Kong in 2001. Suddenly, news of the 9/11 attack came in over the radio. News of the disaster continued to unfold while Paulson spoke over the phone with the Goldman Sachs' New York office a short distance from the burning Twin Towers at Ground Zero. Paulson ordered the pilot to turn around and head back toward New York. To find out what happened next, you must get the book.
Any additional comments?
The printed book contains some features understandably lacking in the spoken version.A Cast of Characters section in the back of the book clarifies the names and official titles of the people. A List of Acronyms gives handy reference to the confusingly similar names of the organizations heard throughout the book..
6 of 6 people found this review helpful
Many thanks to Hank Paulson for sharing numerous very interesting and insightful episodes from his high-level dealings with business and governmental figures in China.
Those experiences offer a vivid picture of a China that is far different from the single-minded monolith as often portrayed in the daily press and in many of our political debates. Like us, the Chinese grapple with financial, environmental and economic challenges. Although the Chinese political system is far from democratic as we know that system in Western countries, it is quite interesting to see evidence in the book of Chinese leaders’ genuine concerns for maintaining the confidence and respect of their citizens through civilized means. For a Communist government, that is certainly a sharp contrast with the methods of Stalinist Russia and of China itself during its so-called “Cultural Revolution” of the 1960’s.
The book is not a fawning tribute to all that the Chinese have accomplished since 1979 in the economic realm. Mr. Paulson spends time in the book on the problems in China arising from short-sighted and often corrupt government practices, as well as the daunting environmental and social problems that have accompanied an often heedless focus on economic expansion. It does offer very practical suggestions for our dealing with China in constructive and responsible ways—particularly by focusing on areas of clear common interest where we can work on problems together to our mutual benefit.
I strongly recommend the book. That said, Mr. Paulson would be the first to admit I suspect that he is not a literary star. His writing style relies largely on stock figures of speech rather than penetrating turns of phrase. Some of the latter parts of the book could also have benefited from sharper editing—they fall at times into generalities that could have well come from a text book. Still, the stories he tells are unique and illuminating, more than compensating for any literary shortcomings.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful