Review of River Town: Two Years on the Yangtze

In this series of blog posts, CSIC volunteer and sourcing expert Renaud Anjoran of AQF offers a review of various China business books and gives his opinion on their relevance to the typical international buyer.

Book Review - River Town by Peter Hessler

by Peter Hessler

This isn’t a business book but as it gives good insight about the situation in China, I wanted to include it in my reviews.

The book is peppered with hilarious remarks about small details and profound insights about Chinese culture. And it is very well written.

What Hessler describes in his book is what all foreigners notice when they come to China and observe the locals, I guess. I starting living in another province about 10 years after his stay in Fuling, yet I was struck by the same things. Except maybe the omnipresence of political propaganda, but it may be due to his position in the education system. The attitude of the “laobaixing” is not the same here in Shenzhen, but I lived in a small town for a few months and it was much closer to what Hessler describes.
Easily readable. Highly recommended if you are wondering how the “Chinese system” works.

Reviewed by Renaud Anjoran

Wishing you successful China sourcing!

Posted by Mike Bellamy, host of “Ask the Experts” at the China Sourcing Information Center.

Mike Bellamy is an Advisory Board Member & Featured Blogger at the not-for-profit China Sourcing Information Center ( He is also the author of, “The Essential Reference Guide to China Sourcing” ( and founder of PassageMaker Sourcing Solutions (

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