This book is a thoroughly absorbing study of modern China and its vast population. The author embarks on a pilgrimage along Route 312, China’s Route 66, heading West from Shanghai, deep into the deserted Asiatic frontier in the northwest. En route, he documents his mainly chance encounters with the general populace and impromptu, un-monitored interviews, bring out the true feelings of the Chinese and their views on modern life and the future. The book is quite scathing of the Chinese government in many ways, yet it appraises the newfound freedoms many Chinese have and explores the amazing pace of development that has propelled China into a dominant world power. Almost no stone is left uncovered and every aspect of culture, life, politics, industry, family and education, are probed. I found that the deeper West that Gifford reached the more extreme and amazing the travelogue revealed itself. As he headed out into the Gobi desert, the remoteness of this region was apparent and I found his meeting with the Uighur people, particularly enthralling. It is clear that the author is a deep sinophile and is obviously well-versed to make such a study, having worked in the region for many years as a leading journalist. I think that this book is very accessible and is a good light introduction to anyone who is studying China. There is a good bibliography and plenty of references. It is a well written tale and is fast-flowing. It combines well with other books I have read about the rise of China and its potential in the future of our planet.