China: Portrait of a People Reviewed By Carolyn Warren of
Carolyn Warren
Reviewer Carolyn Warren: Carolyn is the author of Mortgage Rip-Offs and Money Savers, an Amazon bestseller and Book of the Month pick for The Washington Post (8/08). She also writes for the Christian market. Praying Through Your Pregnancy was a finalist in the 2010 ECOA Book Awards. She enjoys reading nonfiction, literary fiction, and women's mainstream novels. Follow Here To Find Out More About Carolyn and Here.

By Carolyn Warren
Published on December 21, 2012

Author: Tom Carter

ISBN:  978-988-99799-4-2

Author: Tom Carter

ISBN:  978-988-99799-4-2

China: Portrait of a People is a magnificent look inside a nation most Westerners know little about, and it accomplishes this in the most delightful way—through photographs. These are not your generic, Internet-type photographs. Rather, these are personal, one-of-a-kind, unique peeks inside the soul of China.

In the Year of the Monkey, 2004, Tom Carter left San Francisco to embark on a four-year quest to connect with the Chinese. From the southwestern subtropical jungle, to the frozen wastes of Siberia, across deserts, and beneath Hong Kong’s neon blur, he tramped through China by train, bus, boat, motorcycle, mule, and on foot. 

What he discovered was that China is not one people; but rather, it has 33 regions and is made up of 56 distinct ethnicities, each with its own unique personality. These cultures come through in over 600 color photographs. You’ll discover the face of a farmer harvesting green tea, an Akha woman with burgundy-stained teeth from chewing the narcotic beetle nut, babies and goats riding in bicycle baskets, lovers kissing in the park, and hipsters with bleached hair and piercings. You’ll look into the eyes of the elderly, joyful children, families, and business people.

One day, Tom Carter found himself freezing half to death. He was unprepared for the bitter cold in Northern China, the Siberian region, in winter. As he sat on the bus, his entire body was in complete and utter pain; and he couldn’t stop shaking. Two elderly Chinese woman came alongside him, covered him with their Army blankets, and warmed him inside this “tent” with their own body heat. It was an incredible act of kindness from strangers who communicated on a deeper level than words. 

One cannot fully understand a people without seeing the dwellings in which they live. You’ll discover homes so close together, you can barely see space between the rooftops as well as simple thatched-roof village homes.  

If I had to select one photograph as a favorite, I’d have to say it’s the one that shows women along the banks of the Yalu River doing their morning wash by hand; right behind them stands a long row of modern high-rise buildings. It’s such a contrast. How is it that women are scrubbing laundry in a river in front of tall structures with high-tech amenities? 

The book is organized according to the 33 regions the author visited. There’s a map, short explanation, and captions to go with the outstanding photographs. Highly recommended for hours of viewing pleasure and insight into the mysteries of China. This book is perfect as a gift or for your own library or coffee table.

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