Village With My Name Family History of China's Opening to the World

Scott Tong
Uni of Chicago Press
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Village With My Name Family History of China's Opening to the World

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"In this combination of memoir, genealogy, history, and current affairs reporting, Tong uses his discovery of his family's past in mainland China to put many of China's most monumental historical events into a human scale. His attempts to clarify or uncover his family history, and the disputes, controversies, and missteps he encounters along the way will be familiar to anyone who has spent time trying to understand how a family became the way it is. Here the story is even more interesting because the story of the Tongs is complicated by the political history of China, which remains very present in their lives."--James Carter, coauthor of Forging the Modern World: A History "One of the best books on China in a decade. Tong displays the creative zeal of a world-class investigative reporter, but also the huge heart and family ties of a great-grandson of old China. Tong's family stories are the lived history of China--where exile, starvation and shame alternated with escape, riches, and promise. This is a spellbinding and personal portrait by a remarkably gifted storyteller."--Pietra Rivoli, author of Travels of a T-Shirt in the Global Economy "A Village With My Name is a rich, subtle, closely observed study of the power of memory (and forgetting) to shape both a family and a nation. Tong's multigenerational tale of his remarkable clan captures all the contradictions of a China in world-changing metamorphosis."--Eric Liu, author of A Chinaman's Chance: One Family's Journey and the Chinese American Dream "A Village with My Name is a wonderful unearthing of long-forgotten but ever-important ties between America and China. It is a great reminder that our relations with China are about more than politics and have stretched farther back than many of us would realize. Besides, it's a great read!" --John Pomfret, author of The Beautiful Country and the Middle Kingdom: America and China, from 1776 to the Present "Tong uses a reporter's skills and dedication to track down his family's own story, traveling to such unfamiliar places as a desolate prison camp in remote northeastern China and a child trafficker's front room. The result is a vivid illustration of the high price paid by his relatives for their links with the West. Compulsively readable, this book traces China's long and difficult relationship with the outside world through the extraordinary journey of a single family." --Louisa Lim, author of The People's Republic of Amnesia: Tiananmen Revisited
Scott Tong is a correspondent for the American Public Media program "Marketplace," with a focus on energy, environment, resources, climate, supply chain, and the global economy. He is former China bureau chief. Tong has reported from more than a dozen countries.


When journalist Scott Tong moved to Shanghai, his assignment was to start up the first full-time China bureau for "Marketplace," the daily business and economics program on public radio stations across the United States. But for Tong the move became much more it offered the opportunity to reconnect with members of his extended family who had remained in China after his parents fled the communists six decades prior. By uncovering the stories of his family's history, Tong discovered a new way to understand the defining moments of modern China and its long, interrupted quest to go global. A Village with My Name offers a unique perspective on the transitions in China through the eyes of regular people who have witnessed such epochal events as the toppling of the Qing monarchy, Japan's occupation during World War II, exile of political prisoners to forced labor camps, mass death and famine during the Great Leap Forward, market reforms under Deng Xiaoping, and the dawn of the One Child Policy. Tong's story focuses on five members of his family, who each offer a specific window on a changing country: a rare American-educated girl born in the closing days of the Qing Dynasty, a pioneer exchange student, an abandoned toddler from World War II who later rides the wave of China's global export boom, a young professional climbing the ladder at a multinational company, and an orphan (the author's daughter) adopted in the middle of a baby-selling scandal fueled by foreign money. Through their stories, Tong shows us China anew, visiting former prison labor camps on the Tibetan plateau and rural outposts along the Yangtze, exploring the Shanghai of the 1930s, and touring factories across the mainland. With curiosity and sensitivity, Tong explores the moments that have shaped China and its people, offering a compelling and deeply personal take on how China became what it is today.
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