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Books
13
Apr
2011
Outliers E-mail
Reviews - Books
Written by David A. Dayton
Outliers, is the latest thought provoking book from Malcolm Gladwell.  I don’t typically review books that I read that are not specifically about business in Asia here.  And this book has, as it’s thesis, nothing to do with China.  But there are a couple of really impressive ideas presented so clearly that you have apply them to business here.

But, more importantly, before we get to the Asia stuff, I’d recommend this book to anyone with children; I have 5 boys.  Gladwell basically claims that “success” is not Horacio Alger but rather a combination of a good environment (home), some great luck, perfect timing (birth), a motivating culture, supportive parents/mentors, and some personal diligence and hard work thrown in to top it off.   He doesn’t deny that working hard and lifting yourself up from the bottom by your bootstraps can work.  He just says that it’s not the “secret” to the successes of most of the world’s rich and famous.  Success can be, to some degree, formulaic. And that’s good news for anyone that wants their children to succeed.

 
20
Dec
2010
Poorly Made in China E-mail
Reviews - Books
Written by David A. Dayton
Like a couple other of my favorite books on China, River Town and Mr. China specifically, I’m admitting to you now that the reason that I like this book so much is that this is my life in print. This is what I’ve done for the past 7 years in China—solved other people’s problems, dealt with very “cleaver” Chinese factories and played go-between with suppliers and buyers who are not just from different countries but actually from completely different planets.

Poorly Made in China
tells the stories behind the products. Unlike Made in China, it’s not an agenda-driven call to political action, but rather a travelogue of successes, missteps, misunderstandings, adventures in manufacturing and scores of “I can’t believe what just happened” moments. If you think that “oh, China’s not so bad anymore” then you need to read this book. It’s a Mr. China for this decade—a direct look into the experiences of a China Hand deeply involved in manufacturing in Southern China right now. Despite the gleaming steel and glass buildings of Shenzhen and Guangzhou, Paul clearly shows that China is not a first world country.

 
11
Feb
2010
The Chinese E-mail
Reviews - Books
Written by David A. Dayton
This is a fantastic book. Honestly, I only have two minor issues with Jasper’s Becker’s book, The Chinese. First, it is ten years old and I really want an update. If you think that ten years could not be nearly long enough to date a book on populations within a country than you haven not been to China recently. I would really like to see an update that included some specifics on the various population groups within the major cities of Shezhen, Shanghai and Beijing.

For example of how fast China changes, consider this: I first came to China in ’95.  I taught English at a university on the outskirts of Chongqing for a year.  That year was physically the most difficult of my life.  I lost 45lbs—there was nothing to eat.  Even the parents of my Chinese students told their children not to eat out on the streets because it was so dirty.  The teachers told me not to go to the campus health clinic because the university was saving money and buying fake medicines.  

 
01
Nov
2009
3 Billion New Capitalists E-mail
Reviews - Books
Written by David A. Dayton
Better than Freidman’s “The World is Flat” because it has more research and less left-leaning political solutions. Clyde Prestowitz’s “3 Billion New Capitalists” is a more complex read and of more value since it looks at both the causes of America’s decline/Asia’s rise and the numbers behind the trends. While Freidman regales us with anecdotes, Prestowitz tries to overwhelm with statistics.

The two general themes make up the case for the potential fall of the US from world dominance and the rise of Asia, and to a lesser extent the EU and Brazil in it’s place. While Prestowitz groups these issues together, I think that there are really two different issues:

One is the fall of America and the Dollar from the top spot in the world economic-political hierarchy and the rise of Asia, and the Euro, in it’s place. The decline in the quality of American education, the lack of government support/encouragement for both economically strategic industries and maths and sciences gets most of the blame. Conversely, the willingness of other countries to see specific types of education and industries as keys to national security has made the “free trade” playing field anything but level.

 


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