Out of the Gobi: My Story of China and America
Foreword by Janet Yellen Weijian Shan's Out of the Gobi is a powerful memoir and commentary that will be one of the most important books on China of our time, one with the potential to re-shape how Americans view China, and how the Chinese view life in America. Shan, a former hard laborer who is now one of Asia's best-known financiers, is thoughtful, observant, eloquent, and brutally honest, making him well-positioned to tell the story of a life that is a microcosm of modern China, and of how, improbably, that life became intertwined with America. Out of the Gobi draws a vivid picture of the raw human energy and the will to succeed against all odds. Shan only finished elementary school when Mao Zedong's Cultural Revolution tore his country apart. He was a witness to the brutality and absurdity of Mao's policies during one of the most tumultuous eras in China's history. Exiled to the Gobi Desert at age 15 and denied schooling for 10 years, he endured untold hardships without ever giving up his dream for an education. Shan's improbable journey, from the Gobi to the People's Republic of Berkeley and far beyond, is a uniquely American success story - told with a splash of humor, deep insight and rich and engaging detail. This powerful and personal perspective on China and America will inform Americans' view of China, humanizing the country, while providing a rare view of America from the prism of a keen foreign observer who lived the American dream. Says former Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen: Shan's life provides a demonstration of what is possible when China and the United States come together, even by happenstance. It is not only Shan's personal history that makes this book so interesting but also how the stories of China and America merge in just one moment in time to create an inspired individual so unique and driven, and so representative of the true sprits of both countries.
From the Back Cover A personal history of China in its Mao and post-Mao periods written by one of China's brightest people. Worth reading and, more importantly, understanding the 'great leap forward'! --Dianne Feinstein, U.S. Senator for California This is no ordinary memoir. It is the engrossing, vivid personal story of someone buffeted by the tides of China's tumultuous emergence from poverty to power in the space of a few decades. Weijian Shan's journey from rural exile in the Gobi Desert to the heights of international finance is a metaphor for China itself. --James Kynge, global China editor, Financial Times This is more than a memoir, it's an epic. Shan's improbable journey from his teenage exile in a bleak Gobi Desert work camp to becoming a renowned leader of international finance could be the stuff of fiction. Out of the Gobi is a must-read for anyone wanting a deeper understanding of modern China and a window from which to view our nation as well. --Jeffrey Katzenberg, founder, WndrCo, former chairman, Walt Disney Studios, and co-founder and CEO, DreamWorks Animation Out of the Gobi is a fascinating, inspiring book. It told me what I hadn't known about China through its modern struggles and successes, and about how the United States looks from the world's perspective, and about human ingenuity, courage, and humor that have no national limitations. --James Fallows, The Atlantic To help us appreciate the story, Shan has provided a historical backdrop chapter by chapter, so that we can fully appreciate his personal journey. How Shan lived through a series of misadventures, wound up as an investment banker in the United States, and later became one of Asia's shrewdest investors is a tale worth reading. You will emerge with a better understanding of what China is and how it got there. --David Bonderman, co-founder and chairman, TPG Capital Weijian Shan's astonishing story is a modern Chinese odyssey, an epic of personal and political drama, defined, above all, by sheer grit and resilience. Before he made it to Berkeley, Wharton, and the upper ranks of global finance, Shan made it out of the Gobi Desert by telling himself, 'I will never give up.' Indeed, he never did. --Evan Osnos, author of Age of Ambition, winner of the 2014 National Book Award Weijian Shan's remarkable journey paints a picture of grit, determination, and a gift for learning. Well-written, and filled with passionate and poignant insights, Out of the Gobi is a compelling read for anyone seeking a deeper understanding of the character and determination of the people who will ultimately render history's verdict on China. --Stephen Roach, senior fellow, Yale University, former chairman, Morgan Stanley Asia, and author of Unbalanced: The Codependency of America and China
From the front Cover Weijian Shan's Out of the Gobi is a powerful memoir and commentary that will be one of the most important books on China of our time, one with the potential to reshape how Americans view China, and how the Chinese view life in America. Shan, a former hard laborer who is now one of Asia's best-known financiers, is thoughtful, observant, eloquent, and brutally honest, making him well positioned to tell the story of a life that is a microcosm of modern China, and of how, improbably, that life became intertwined with America. Out of the Gobi draws a vivid picture of raw human energy and the will to succeed against all odds. It is also the story of how Shan's relentless drive, coupled with his prodigious intellect, put him at the center of one of the most important economic shifts in modern history. Shan's improbable journey, from the People's Republic of China to the People's Republic of Berkeley and beyond, is a uniquely American success story--told with a splash of humor, deep insight, and rich and engaging detail. This is an insider's account that marries the immediacy and vibrancy of Shan's extraordinary experiences with the informed analysis of a US-trained economist and accomplished investor to shed light on China's rise and its relationship with the US. This powerful and personal perspective on China and America will shape Americans' view of China, humanizing the country while honestly confronting its many deficiencies. Born and raised in Beijing, Shan only finished elementary school when Mao Zedong's Cultural Revolution tore his country apart. He was a witness to the brutality and absurdity of Mao's policies during one of the most tumultuous eras in China's history. Exiled to the Gobi Desert at age 15, he spent his formative years doing hard labor. Denied schooling for 10 years and a secondary education altogether, he returned to Beijing 6 years later, in time to witness Mao Zedong's death and the start of economic reforms that would transform China. Riding this new wave of openness, Shan became one of the first Chinese students in the US in the early 1980s. Only five years after leaving the Gobi, he found himself sharing a laugh with Senator Dianne Feinstein, as captured in a photo in the book. He went on to become a PhD candidate at the University of California, Berkeley, a professor at the Wharton School, and ultimately one of Asia's most respected investors. His background makes him not only unique but also uniquely well qualified to comment on China and its position in the world and vis-à-vis the United States that is struggling to redefine its role at a challenging and complex time.