Age of Ambition – Pulitzer Prize in General Nonfiction finalist. Winner of the 2014 National Book Award in nonfiction.
An Economist Best Book of 2014. Winner of the bronze medal for the Council on Foreign Relations’ 2015 Arthur Ross Book Award. A vibrant, colorful, and revelatory inner history of China during a moment of profound transformation
From abroad, we often see China as a caricature: a nation of pragmatic plutocrats and ruthlessly dedicated students destined to rule the global economy-or an addled Goliath, riddled with corruption and on the edge of stagnation. What we don’t see is how both powerful and ordinary people are remaking their lives as their country dramatically changes.
As the Beijing correspondent for The New Yorker, Evan Osnos was on the ground in China for years, witness to profound political, economic, and cultural upheaval. In Age of Ambition, he describes the greatest collision taking place in that country: the clash between the rise of the individual and the Communist Party’s struggle to retain control. He asks probing questions: Why does a government with more success lifting people from poverty than any civilization in history choose to put strict restraints on freedom of expression? Why do millions of young Chinese professionals-fluent in English and devoted to Western pop culture-consider themselves “angry youth,” dedicated to resisting the West’s influence? How are Chinese from all strata finding meaning after two decades of the relentless pursuit of wealth?
Writing with great narrative verve and a keen sense of irony, Osnos follows the moving stories of everyday people and reveals life in the new China to be a battleground between aspiration and authoritarianism, in which only one can prevail.
“The rise of China is the biggest story of the past twenty-five years. Evan Osnos captures the country in all its striving, thunderous diversity, through a narrative that moves, provokes and makes us laugh. Age of Ambition is a marvel of great reporting, careful thinking, and powerful writing.” (Dexter Filkins)
“If you have time to read only one book about China today, read this one. Woven from vignettes of Chinese life at many different levels, it provides unerring insights into what makes the Chinese the people they are while wearing its learning so lightly that the narrative never flags. It should be in every tourist’s baggage and every diplomat’s library.” (Philip Short, author of Mao: A Life)
“Evan Osnos is one of the most astute observers of contemporary China, and in this book he gives us a powerful and moving portrait of that country as it moves into the next decade. Using crisp and brilliant prose, Osnos uses some of the figures at the cutting edge of a changing China – artists, bloggers, religious leaders, and workers – to show us the strengths and weaknesses of this fast-changing and deeply important nation. This is a must-read book for those who want to understand China today – and where it is going.” (Rana Mitter, Professor of the History and Politics of Modern China, University of Oxford)
“The best book on China I’ve ever read. Witty, indispensable, and often moving. I look forward to stealing Evan Osnos’s wisdom and passing it off as my own for years to come.” (Gary Shteyngart)
“For most of a decade, Evan Osnos has been one of the most energetic, skilled, and thoughtful observers of China. Whether he’s accompanying Chinese tourists to the Best Western in Luxembourg or watching Ai Weiwei blur the lines between performance and protest, Osnos is always engaging. This is a wonderful book.” (Peter Hessler, author of River Town: Two Years on the Yangtze and Country Driving: A Chinese Road Trip)