Out of the Gobi: My Story of China and America

Weijian Shan‘s Out of the Gobi: My Story of China and America (Wiley 2019) is a powerful memoir and commentary that will be one of the most important books on China of our time, one with the potential to re-shape how Americans view China, and how the Chinese view life in America.

Shan, a former hard labourer who is now one of Asia’s best-known financiers, is thoughtful, observant, eloquent, and brutally honest, making him well-positioned to tell the story of a life that is a microcosm of modern China, and of how, improbably, that life became intertwined with America. Out of the Gobi draws a vivid picture of the raw human energy and the will to succeed against all odds.

Shan only finished elementary school when Mao Zedong’s Cultural Revolution tore his country apart. He was a witness to the brutality and absurdity of Mao’s policies during one of the most tumultuous eras in China’s history. Exiled to the Gobi Desert at age 15 and denied schooling for 10 years, he endured untold hardships without ever giving up his dream for an education. Shan’s improbable journey, from the Gobi to the ‘People’s Republic of Berkeley’ and far beyond, is a uniquely American success story – told with a splash of humour, deep insight and rich and engaging detail.

This powerful and personal perspective on China and America will inform Americans’ view of China, humanizing the country, while providing a rare view of America from the prism of a keen foreign observer who lived the American dream.

Says former Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen: ‘Shan’s life provides a demonstration of what is possible when China and the United States come together, even by happenstance. It is not only Shan’s personal history that makes this book so interesting but also how the stories of China and America merge in just one moment in time to create an inspired individual so unique and driven, and so representative of the true sprits of both countries.’

Weijian Shan will be joined by the economist George Magnus and Rana Mitter (Director of the University of Oxford China Centre) to discuss this remarkable life story, and to exchange views on China’s future role in the global economy.

Weijian Shan is Group Chairman and CEO, Managing Partner, PAGAC. In the 12 years before he joined PAG, he was a senior partner at TPG and co-managing partner of Newbridge Capital before its integration with TPG. Previously, Shan was a Managing Director of JP Morgan, concurrently serving as its Chief China Representative. He was Assistant Professor at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. His other former employers include the World Bank and law firm Graham & James in San Francisco. Shan received his Doctor of Philosophy and Master of Arts from University of California, Berkeley (UC Berkeley), and an MBA from University of San Francisco. He studied at Beijing Institute of Foreign Trade (now named the University of International Business and Economics) and also taught there as a faculty member.

Some complimentary copies of the book will be available at the event.

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