The Souls of China by Ian Johnson
The Return of Religion After Mao

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The book is full of moving encounters with Chinese citizens struggling to find the “lost middle” of the country known as Middle Kingdom...
-Guardian

Synopsis

From the Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist, a revelatory portrait of religion in China today—its history, the spiritual traditions of its Eastern and Western faiths, and the ways in which it is influencing China’s future.

The Souls of China tells the story of one of the world’s great spiritual revivals.  Following a century of violent anti-religious campaigns, China is now filled with new temples, churches, and mosques—as well as cults, sects, and politicians trying to harness religion for their own ends. Driving this explosion of faith is uncertainty—over what it means to be Chinese and how to live an ethical life in a country that discarded traditional morality a century ago and is searching for new guideposts.

Ian Johnson first visited China in 1984; in the 1990s he helped run a charity to rebuild Daoist temples, and in 2001 he won a Pulitzer Prize for his coverage of the suppression of the Falun Gong spiritual movement. While researching this book, he lived for extended periods with underground church members, rural Daoists, and Buddhist pilgrims. Along the way, he learned esoteric meditation techniques, visited a nonagenarian Confucian sage, and befriended government propagandists as they fashioned a remarkable embrace of traditional values. He has distilled these experiences into a cycle of festivals, births, deaths, detentions, and struggle—a great awakening of faith that is shaping the soul of the world’s newest superpower.
 

About Ian Johnson

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Ian Johnson is the Berlin Bureau chief for The Wall Street Journal. In 2001, when he was the Journal's Beijing correspondent, he won the Pulitzer Prize for his reporting on the Falun Gong. He lives in Berlin.
 
Published April 11, 2017 by Pantheon. 480 pages
Genres: History, Religion & Spirituality, Travel. Non-fiction
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Critic reviews for The Souls of China
All: 4 | Positive: 4 | Negative: 0

Kirkus

Excellent
on Feb 21 2017

Some may argue that Johnson’s work is anecdotal in nature and therefore presents only a sliver of religious life in such a vast nation as China, but the author uses his anecdotal approach to the best possible advantage.

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The Economist

Above average
on Mar 30 2017

The book presents a fascinating panorama: wealthy urbanites on Daoist pilgrimages and young Christian activists learning how to campaign...

Read Full Review of The Souls of China: The Retur... | See more reviews from The Economist

Guardian

Above average
Reviewed by Julia Lovell on Apr 07 2017

The book is full of moving encounters with Chinese citizens struggling to find the “lost middle” of the country known as Middle Kingdom...

Read Full Review of The Souls of China: The Retur... | See more reviews from Guardian

The Economist

Above average
on Mar 30 2017

The book presents a fascinating panorama: wealthy urbanites on Daoist pilgrimages and young Christian activists learning how to campaign...

Read Full Review of The Souls of China: The Retur... | See more reviews from The Economist

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