*China Airborne*

by on May 18, 2012 at 5:58 am in Books, Economics | Permalink

That is the new book by James Fallows.  On the surface it is a book about aviation in China, but it is also one of the best books on China (ever), one of the best books on industrial organization in years, and an excellent treatment of economic growth.  It is also readable and fun.

Highly recommended, it is sure to make my best books of the year list.

Michael G Heller May 18, 2012 at 9:41 am

James Fallows really knows China and Asia generally, and tells wonderful aviation stories with the fervour and humour of a true enthusiast. He also gives excellent tips about computer software for common old non-nerds like me. I’ve been reading him for years on everything *except* American politics.

Affe May 18, 2012 at 9:44 am

Great way of putting it.

hanmeng May 18, 2012 at 12:59 pm

Fallows may know a lot about Asia now, but back when Japan looked to be the rival of the US, he thought the US government should imitate the economic policies of the Japanese govt.

James Fallows May 18, 2012 at 3:02 pm

I am showing up to say thanks to Tyler Cowen, for his generous comment, which means a lot to me; also Michael Heller and Affe.

To hanmeng: Actually, no. (I realize this is a familiar meme, but trust me — this is something I know about). You might look at a book I wrote called ‘More Like Us,’ whose basic premise was: people think we can compete with Japan by being more like them. No: we need to be more like us. The US has to compete within its own value system, be true to its own unique (and advantageous) heritage, and so on.

In *certain ways,* the US needed to be more aggressive about things like semiconductor R&D — and in the late GHW Bush and early Bill Clinton eras companies and federal R&D did that. But the main guideline remains: more like us. And recognizing that the Japanese / Korean / Singaporean school system of that era was good at educating its *bottom* third, while our strength is the top third.

Main point is my gratitude to Tyler Cowen. Jim Fallows

charlie May 18, 2012 at 3:41 pm

Yep, the most reasonable person in America clearly shouldn’t be talking about US politics. He might accidently point out the Republican party is a farce.

Anne Pruitt May 21, 2012 at 4:10 pm

I’m with Charlie.

Ray Lopez May 18, 2012 at 5:47 pm

I’ve heard that James Fallows’ book tries to make China’s ‘me-too’ foray into avionics a sort of looking glass into modern China, and that this is a bit of a shoehorn square peg-into-round-hole fetch, but the book might be worth checking out if Fallows is a good writer (“James Fallows is an American print and radio journalist”)

Ian Maitland May 18, 2012 at 7:56 pm

Hanmeg has a point.
James Fallows was one of the false prophets of the 1980s who predicted that the Japanese economic juggernaut would “wreck the postwar system of free trade” and make the US-Japanese relationship unsustainable. He called it a “delusion” that “normal business competition will balance out whatever is unbalanced now.” And he agreed with his fellow declinist Chalmers Johnson that “If the United States were a well-run country, neoclassical economists would be hanging from the Capitol dome” (Atlantic, 1989).
I hope he’s learned some humility in the meantime — and some economics.

Matt May 28, 2012 at 12:04 am

Always disappointed when I click through to these and don’t find a ebook link. I have money to spend if you’ll let me, publishers!

Silvia June 7, 2012 at 8:02 am

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