What the books are about

Three Cups of Tea

A reader in Holland: This is the type of book you want to immediately go and buy for everyone. It’s an awe inspiring story that makes you realise how much some people manage to get done in their lifetime — which makes me question what I might’ve contributed to making the world or areas a better place (I still need to start contributing but by reading something like this it does/ has inspired me to start). The way it was written makes it easy to read — and gives you the real glimpse into Greg Mortenson’s life. How easily things can change in a day. I really think this book is something everyone should read, and it should even be added to schools reading lists.

State of Denial: Bush at War...

In his unmissable new book, Bob Woodward takes the reader on an inside journey from the start of the Iraq War in 2003 right up to the present day, providing a detailed, authoritative account of President Bush’s leadership and the struggles among the men and women in the White House, the Pentagon, the CIA and the State Department.Woodward puts the Bush legacy in historical context as he shows this presidency in action in a way that is normally seen only years after a chief executive leaves office. Here is the behind-the-scenes story of this administration — meetings, conversations, and memos; conflicts, manoeuvring, and anguish as key administration figures provide a full view of the first presidency of the 21st century.

China Road

China is a country on the move, and Route 312 — China’s Route 66 — is the artery along which 150 million Chinese are daily travelling in search of work and a better life. Running 3,000 miles from Shanghai to the border of Kazakhstan in the northwest, it is the transcontinental road that Rob Gifford has always wanted to travel. “As I prepare to set off on my journey, there’s one big question that I want to answer. Which is it going to be for China, greatness or implosion? Can the country really become the twenty-first-century superpower that many predict? Or could it all collapse, like the Soviet Union, weighed down by legacies of the past and the contradictions of the present? And if it does go on to greatness, what kind of country will China be? Can it ever make the transition to a modern, democratic state?” Part personal pilgrimage, part reportage, Gifford’s book cuts right through the middle of the turmoil. Sometimes poignant, often funny but always engaging, the author’s quest to get to the heart of the new China and his ability to talk to everyone across the social spectrum — from truckers and prostitutes to yuppies and travelling salesmen — makes China Road an outstanding travel narrative.

The Writing on the Wall

China constitutes a fifth of the world’s population. Over the last 20 years, its economy has doubled to make it the fifth largest economy in the world; if the pace is repeated over the next 20, it is set to become second only to the US. The speed of its development is stunning, a combination of cheap labour and commitment to science and technology that has never been matched by a developing country. The Pearl River Delta, Shanghai and Beijing have become city-regions, whose growth and embrace of modernity strike the visitor with awesome force. This is a continent on the move, recovering the world position and wealth it once had. The re-emergence of China as a superpower constitutes the biggest challenge the world has had for more than a century. Never before in modern times has the financial, trade, economic and diplomatic world pecking order been so profoundly reconstituted with the challenger country itself in the grips of incredible ideological and political change.

The River of Lost Footsteps

In The River of Lost Footsteps, Thant Myint-U tells the story of modern Burma, in part through a telling of his own family’s history, in an interwoven narrative that is by turns lyrical, dramatic, and appalling. His maternal grandfather, U Thant, rose from being the schoolmaster of a small town in the Irrawaddy Delta to become the UN secretary-general in the 1960s. And on his father’s side, the author is descended from a long line of courtiers who served at Burma’s Court of Ava for nearly two centuries. Through their stories and others, he portrays Burma’s rise and decline in the modern world, from the time of Portuguese pirates and renegade Mughal princes through the decades of British colonialism, the devastation of World War II, and a 60-year civil war that continues today and is the longest-running war anywhere in the world.