Jonathan Mirsky writes: There are two books here. One is about the intricacies and arcana of golf — irons, niblicks, drivers, pars, cuts, and so on. If you are a golf maven, go for it. But the other book is on a wholly different matter: the details and extent of local and high-level Chinese corruption […]
Edward Chancellor writes: Attempts to explain China’s recent history often fall back on statistics showing the country’s breakneck economic growth: how many tons of steel have been produced, how many miles of high-speed rail constructed. The trouble with this approach is that the figures are mind-numbingly large and often dubious, while the social context is […]
For Mr Washburn golf is symbolic not only of China’s economic rise but also of “the less glamorous realities of a nation’s awkward and arduous evolution from developing to developed: corruption, environmental neglect, disputes over rural land rights and an ever-widening gap between rich and poor”. He tackles these great themes indirectly, by interweaving the […]
Simon Kuper writes: The Forbidden Game uses golf – a game that most in the country probably still know nothing about – to gain a rare insight into ordinary Chinese lives. Washburn, the managing editor of the Asia Society in the US, was a reporter in China when he began covering golf tournaments. A Stakhanovite […]
Christina Larson writes: The quixotic rise of golf in China—where Mao Zedong once lambasted putting as a bourgeois pastime—is the subject of a new book by the Asia Society’s Dan Washburn. In The Forbidden Game: Golf and the Chinese Dream, a charming and accessible work, Washburn follows the lives of three men whose careers are […]
Steven Schwankert writes: Golfers will love reading about the game’s evolution in China, and even China hands who have no interest in golf will chuckle at how Chinese something foreign can become once it lands on these shores. This is a delightful read that can be enjoyed this summer in between time on the links, […]
I’m not a golfer, but I really liked this book. The charm of the book is that it takes us through the lives of three men, and a host of lesser characters, and shows us how the growth of golf in China shaped their lives. … Three engaging characters amid the ambiguity of changing regulations, […]
Washburn captures China’s shift from its agrarian roots toward more Western pursuits in this engaging story. Read the complete review.
John D. Van Fleet writes: Author James Fallows, writing elsewhere, captured the point in fewer words, describing The Forbidden Game as “another valuable ‘universal in the particular’ story of China.” So the book stands proudly on the shelf (or in the Kindle folder) next to Crow’s 1937 work and others that foster greater understanding of […]
This hopefully bodes well for my forthcoming book (due out sometime next year from Oneworld Publications), from which my Unsavory Elements chapter is loosely adapted.