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The Shanghai Free Taxi

The Shanghai Free Taxi

Journeys with the Hustlers and Rebels of the New China

As any traveler knows, some of the best and most honest conversations take place during car rides. So, when a long-time NPR correspondent wanted to learn more about the real China, he started driving a cab–and discovered a country amid seismic political and economic change.

China–America’s most important competitor–is at a turning point. With economic growth slowing, Chinese people face inequality and uncertainty as their leaders tighten control at home and project power abroad.

In this adventurous, original book, NPR correspondent Frank Langfitt creates a free taxi service–offering rides in exchange for illuminating conversation–to go beyond the headlines and get to know a wide range of colorful, compelling characters representative of the new China. They include folks like “Beer,” a slippery salesman who tries to sell Langfitt a used car; Rocky, a farm boy turned Shanghai lawyer; and Chen, who runs an underground Christian church and moves his family to America in search of a better, freer life.

Blending memorable characters, evocative travel writing, and insightful political analysis, The Shanghai Free Taxi is a sharply observed and surprising book that will help readers make sense of the world’s other superpower at this extraordinary moment.
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Genre: Nonfiction / History / Asia / China

On Sale: June 11th 2019

Price: $16.99 / $21.99 (CAD)

Page Count: 320

ISBN-13: 9781610398152

What's Inside

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Reader Reviews

Praise

"Lively, humorous, and touching, the book exposes the struggles of regular people in conflict with an authoritarian state. Without judgment, the author/driver allows his subjects to narrate their own adventures, leading to honest, raw, human stories."—Kirkus Reviews
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"Frank Langfitt devised an ingenious way to burrow into everyday Chinese life, and he came back with stories that are humane, candid, fast-paced, and compulsively readable. The Shanghai Free Taxi gives you the marrow of today's China in all its kindnesses and cruelties and wonders and absurdities."—Evan Osnos, author of Age of Ambition: Chasing Fortune, Truth, and Faith in the New China, National Book Award winner
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"An energetic and sympathetic reporter, Frank Langfitt follows individuals not only to the far ends of China, but also to the United States and Europe. Challenging to report but easy to read, this book reveals China's true transition: a profound search for identity in the world at large."—Peter Hessler, New York Times-bestselling author of Country Driving, Oracle Bones, and River Town
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"Frank Langfitt's stint as a taxi driver collecting tales of modern China has created a rollicking, delightful read. Enchanting."—Mei Fong, author of One Child, and Pulitzer Prize winner
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"A delightful, poignant, and revealing book. Langfitt got to see inside the lives of Chinese families of all backgrounds and social classes, and from many parts of the country. The result is a vivid look at the contradictory dreams, achievements, heartbreaks, and possibilities of modern China."—James Fallows, author of Our Towns and China Airborne
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"The Shanghai Free Taxi presents a unique, kaleidoscopic view of Chinese society. Characters in this book open up, talking freely and truthfully in a way unimaginable elsewhere under the oppressive regime. It is a must read for anyone trying to gain rare and insightful glimpses into that complicated country."—Qiu Xiaolong, author of Shanghai Redemption and nine other Inspector Chen novels
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"Frank Langfitt writes with the streetwise eye of a cabbie and the analytical mind of a foreign correspondent. This is today's China as it gossips; gripes and moans; strives; struggles; and overcomes."—Paul French, author of City of Devils and Midnight in Peking
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"A cleverly conceived, well executed book by an engaging and empathetic storyteller. Langfitt offers up an appealing mix of humorous and poignant tales featuring individuals from different backgrounds who share just one common trait: all are struggling to find their places in and make sense of an era when their city, their country and the world at large have been undergoing complex and often confounding transformations."—Jeffrey Wasserstrom, coauthor of China in the 21st Century: What Everyone Needs to Know
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