New Book: The Souls of China

"a masterpiece of observation and empathy" —Roderick MacFarquhar in The New York Review of Books.

"Ian Johnson has written a deeply knowledgeable, eminently readable and important book that reveals a side of China that foreigners rarely explore. He is an excellent and companionable guide."—Peter Ford in The Christian Science Monitor

"full of moving encounters with Chinese citizens ... Johnson succeeds in having produced a nuanced group portrait of Chinese citizens striving for non-material answers in an era of frenetic materialism."—Julia Lovell in The Guardian.

"Johnson’s writing is compelling and lyrical, and his research strikes a fluid balance between the political implications and the implications for daily life." —Publishers Weekly

"Engaging, timely, and humane." —Kirkus

"Ian Johnson carries erudition lightly and describes the people and events with deep insights and personal involvement. At heart this is a personal book, full of feelings and exuberance. It’s a tremendous accomplishment.” — Ha Jin

"The Souls of China is a marvel of reportage. Johnson writes about Chinese believers with detail and insight, but also with great heart – their stories are often inspiring and moving.  At a time when most China books focus on politics or economics, this is the best exploration of the cultural and moral life of everyday citizens." —Peter Hessler

"The Souls of China peels back the gleaming surfaces of modern China to reveal a sacred landscape underneath – a web of ritual and tradition, myth and faith, that has sustained Chinese for centuries and is doing so anew." —Leslie T. Chang

"This entrancing and engaging book challenges the modern assumption that religion is a thing of the past; on the contrary, the dramatic resurgence of spirituality in China suggests that it is an irrepressible force that may in some sense be essential to humanity." —Karen Armstrong

The culmination of a six-year project looking at the values and faiths of today's China, The Souls of China: The Return of Religion After Mao will be released on April 12.

The book 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 still searching for new guideposts.

The Souls of China revolves around the lives several people--some famous, others not--as they go through one lunar year: 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.

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