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Peter Hessler Talks ‘Country Driving’ at Boswell

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Feb. 7, 2011
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Perhaps no place on Earth is changing faster than China. And while today the country is viewed as an economic force, Americans seldom receive insight into the people behind the country’s financial boom. In Country Driving, named one of The Economist’s “Books of the Year,” U.S. reporter Peter Hessler addresses the human side of China’s advancements through its young and old citizenry, ranging from farmers to financiers.

Just as the automobile transformed America in the early decades of the 20th century, car sales are driving China’s economy forward. In summer 2001, Hessler received his Chinese driver’s license and did what many newly licensed individuals do: He took a road trip. Country Driving, the culmination of his journey, is filled with poignant narratives and detailed reporting, showcasing China through a combination of history lessons, tourist travelogue and memoir. Readers experience the timeless traditions of rural villages and witness the innovations of sparkling new factory towns. Hessler’s road trip, which took place over seven years, is not so much a reconstruction of a journey but a portrait of a people.

Hessler, author of two other best-selling chronicles on modern China, Oracle Bones and River Town, is a journalist whose interest in China began when he was a Peace Corps volunteer in that country in 1996. That post led to his work for publications such as TheWall Street Journal and The Boston Globe. He served as the Beijing correspondent for The New Yorker from 2000-2007.  Hessler will visit Boswell Book Co. at 7 p.m. Feb. 11 to discuss Country Driving.


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