cover image Crashing the Party: An American Reporter in China

Crashing the Party: An American Reporter in China

Scott Savitt. Soft Skull, $16.95 trade paper (304p) ISBN 978-1-59376-652-8

In this page-turning debut, Savitt, the New York Times’s in-house Chinese-English translator, relates his experiences in China. He begins his story in 1982, when he was a first-year Duke student; grief stricken after his girlfriend’s death, he decided to go on a study abroad trip to the country. Returning after graduation to pursue his journalistic dreams, Savitt finds himself in the midst of historic news stories. The book vividly describes his 17 years of knowing China as intimately as an American can, during which he sees its cultural and economic flowering. He also observes the Tiananmen Square massacre, where he dodges bullets and fights the urge to participate, not just witness. His creation of China’s first independent English-language newspaper gets him noticed, first by the Beijing bureaus of Western media outlets and then by the Communist Party. He comes across as a risk taker whose wealthy family back home could only help him so much—his activist reporting style eventually leads to solitary confinement and a hunger strike. Savitt is a smart, thrilling memoirist, but his book is not just a narrative roller-coaster ride: readers will receive a new understanding of what has happened in China over the past 30 years, from someone who stood shoulder to shoulder with students asking for a better country. (Nov.)