The Shanghai Free Taxi
Journeys with the Hustlers and Rebels of the New China
By Frank Langfitt
Real lives in modern Shanghai - a portrait of a dynamic city struggling against a repressive regime.
As any traveller knows, the best and most honest conversations take place during car rides. So when journalist Frank Langfitt wanted to learn more about the real China, he started driving a cab - and discovered a country amid seismic political and economic change.
The Chinese economic boom, with its impact on the environment, global trade, and the tech industry, has been one of the most important stories of the twenty-first century. Yet few realise that the boom is largely over, and that the new reality in China is unequal growth, political anxiety and a newly empowered strongman president.
In order to understand this new world, Frank Langfitt offered the citizens of Shanghai a simple deal: a conversation in exchange for a free taxi ride. Rides turned into follow-up interviews, shared meals and even a wedding invitation. In this adventurous book, we get to know an array of quirky yet representative characters like Beer Horse, the pushy dealer who sells Langfitt his used car; Rocky, a stylishly dressed migrant worker who loves John Denver music; and Xiao Chen, who moved his family to Hawaii to escape China's oppressive education system but was unable to get out of the country himself.
Unfolding over the course of several years, The Shanghai Free Taxi is a sensitive and eye-opening book about a rapidly changing country.
Frank Langfitt spent a decade as a reporter in China, first with the Baltimore Sun in Beijing and later as NPR's Shanghai correspondent from 2011 to 2016. Langfitt graduated from Princeton and was Nieman fellow at Harvard. He now serves as NPR's correspondent in London and lives in Surrey with his wife, Julie, a veterinarian, and their two children. Before becoming a journalist, Langfitt drove a taxi in Philadelphia.
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- Publication date:
27 Jun 2019
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