Salzman captures post-cultural revolution China through his adventures as a young American English teacher in China and his shifu-tudi (master-student) relationship with China's foremost martial arts teacher.
This is a book full of China, full of wonder. Salzman taught English in Changsha, Hunan, for two years, studied Chinese boxing with a master, helped his Chinese friends, and perceived Chinese life with the writerly eye of a young Hemingway. Although, or because, he flies no political banner and takes no ideological stance, he gives us a bouquet of sketches which distill a range of Chinese people into essences and scenes we immediately understand and feel. Some scenes are sharply, unpretentiously funny; others start the tears to which China reduces (elevates?) her friends. For those who see ``China'' as an abstraction, whether as enemy, hope of the future, or market, this book is the cure. Read it and get your friends and patrons to read it too. A quiet classic, not to be pigeonholed as a China book. Charles W. Hayford, Ctr. for Far Eastern Studies, Univ. of Chicago