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Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Horse that Leaps Through Clouds, Eric Enno Tamm

Subtitled: A Tale of Espionage, the Silk Road, and the Rise of Modern China

Around a hundred years ago the Russian Empire sent a military man by the name of Baron Mannerheim on a two-year-long mission to spy on China. A few years ago a journalist spent seven months retracing the Baron's steps.

Mr. Tamm wrote an engaging narrative about his trip, quoting from the Baron's diaries, letters, and military report to compare the awakening China of the early 20th century with the rising China of today.

What has changed? What has remained the same? What will China be like during this coming century? Mr. Tamm meditates on these questions and their answers.

I liked this book and would recommend it to anyone who is interested in China in particular, or current affairs in general. Also, one can visit Mr. Tamm's website and see many pictures of his trip, a neat use of social media.


  1. What similarities does the author see between old and new China?

  2. I apologize for taking this long to respond to your question. And, happy birthday! ;-)

    Rampant corruption and oppression. The author cites a survey of 6,000 scholars in China; 2,000 of them admitted to plagiarism and falsification of data. The corruption is not limited to the Academe either; it is rife in the government and business sectors, too. There are very few laws safeguarding intellectual property, and Western businesses often fall prey to unscrupulous business practices. I probably don't need to mention instances of oppression.

    Another similarity is the way in which education is conducted, i.e., rote memorization. One American professor teaching in China characterized the Chinese educational philosophy along these lines: if you want to hear a flawless rendition of Mozart, come to China. If you want to meet the next Mozart, don't come to China. They do not teach in such a way as to encourage innovation and creativity.