Country Driving

  • by Peter Hessler
  • Narrated by Peter Berkrot
  • 16 hrs and 34 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

From the best-selling author of Oracle Bones and River Town comes the final book in his award-winning trilogy, on the human side of the economic revolution in China.
In the summer of 2001, Peter Hessler, the longtime Beijing correspondent for The New Yorker, acquired his Chinese driver's license. For the next seven years, he traveled the country, tracking how the automobile and improved roads were transforming China. Hessler writes movingly of the average people - farmers, migrant workers, entrepreneurs - who have reshaped the nation during one of the most critical periods in its modern history.
Country Driving begins with Hessler's 7,000-mile trip across northern China, following the Great Wall, from the East China Sea to the Tibetan plateau. He investigates a historically important rural region being abandoned, as young people migrate to jobs in the southeast.
Next, Hessler spends six years in Sancha, a small farming village in the mountains north of Beijing, which changes dramatically after the local road is paved and the capital's auto boom brings new tourism.
Finally, he turns his attention to urban China, researching development over a period of more than two years in Lishui, a small southeastern city where officials hope that a new government-built expressway will transform a farm region into a major industrial center.
Peter Hessler, whom The Wall Street Journal calls "one of the Western world's most thoughtful writers on modern China", deftly illuminates the vast, shifting landscape of a traditionally rural nation that, having once built walls against foreigners, is now building roads and factory towns that look to the outside world.


What the Critics Say

"The best yet from Peter Hessler, whose two earlier books, River Town and Oracle Bones, were exemplary forays into the genre. . . . Told with his characteristic blend of empathy, insight, and self-deprecating humor." (Time)
"[A]n utterly enjoyable guide, with a humane and empathetic eye for the ambitions, the failures, and the comedy of a country in which everybody, it seems, is on the move, and no one is quite sure of the rules." ( review)
"Peter Hessler is a fine tour guide for the new China, a writer who is capable of tossing aside the country’s (deplorable) maps and admitting: 'In China, it’s not such a terrible thing to be lost, because nobody else knows exactly where they’re going, either.'....It’s not merely that Mr. Hessler convinces us that the Chinese, being new to driving, are simply awful at it. He makes the additional, and delightful, case that perhaps no other people 'take such joy in driving badly.'" (The New York Times)


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

In defense of the narrator

Just wanted to say how much I've enjoyed this audio book, along with Oracle Bones, also by Peter Hessler and narrated by Peter Berkrot. True, the narrator's pronunciation of Chinese words is not native-like, but overall I would rate the narration very high, and would hate to think that someone might pass up this book just because of that! The Chinese words are quite comprehensible, and Mr. Berkrot's engaging style of narration helped to make the 18-ish hour audio book a real pleasure!
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- Timothy

Excellent book and narration

This is a well-written, very entertaining book about how everyday people in China are moving from a rural economy to a modern one. It's amazing to me how Hessler was able to gain the confidence of so many people in order to learn how they really feel about the things going on around them. We learn some of the cultural differences between us and people in China, but I came away thinking that we're not really that different. I give this audiobook four stars and would note to potential buyers that the mediocre overall rating so far owes much to the 1-star rating of the previous reviewer who supposedly liked the book but not the narrator. Hit the sample button to see if you like the narration. I thought the reader was very good at voice characterization, and there are a lot of different voices to perform here - from very young children to older men and women.
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Book Details

  • Release Date: 02-09-2010
  • Publisher: Audible Studios