Tuesday night this week, Amy and I went to Town Hall Seattle to see a book talk by Philip Pan, author of Out of Mao's Shadow: The Struggle for the Soul of a New China. Having just gotten back from our vacation in Beijing, the content was particularly timely. As with all good book talks, Pan gave just enough different snippets of material to make for an interesting talk while leaving plenty of reasons to actually buy the book.
Having spent years in China as a correspondent for The Washington Post, he showed a deep understanding of the country, its history and its hopes and dreams for the future. Perhaps the most interesting part of the evening for me came with the questions from the audience at the end, several of which betrayed convicted points of view on certain issues like Tibet, Taiwan and the One Child policy. Rather than playing into the easy answers that the audience would have comfortably received (reinforcing certain prejudices or assumptions, perhaps), he was deliberate in stating that issues were often more complex than they seemed with reasonable arguments on both sides. And yet he still had and shared his own opinions, a trait I liked.
If the book was the anything like the talk, it'll be a worthwhile, interesting read which will likely raise more questions than it answers.