A journalist meets fascinating characters while seeking out a fugitive gangster in the Chinese underworld.
The notorious gangster Lai Changxing started out as an illiterate farmer, but in the tumult of China’s burgeoning economy, he seized the opportunity to remake himself as a bandit king. A newly minted billionaire of outsized personality and even greater appetites, he was a living legend who eventually ran afoul of authorities. The journalist Oliver August set out to find the fugitive Lai. On his quest he encountered a highly entertaining series of criminals and oddball entrepreneurs—and acquired unique insight into the paradoxes of modern China. Part crime caper, part travelogue, part trenchant cultural analysis, August’s page-turning account captures China’s giddy vibe and its darker vulnerabilities.
Praise for Inside the Red Mansion
“A year before “Inside the Red Mansion” was due to be published, a handler from the Chinese Foreign Ministry told August that he had enjoyed the book. You needn’t be a spy to agree.” —Janet Maslin, New York Times
“A harrowing, super-detailed story of a China exploding with runaway growth yet still trapped in the past and ruled by the ethos of tufei—the classical Mandarin word for bandit . . .. This must-read, can’t-put-it down tale shows the China only hinted at on the evening news—a place of outsized egos, over-the-top commercial development and shadowy, tradition-bound authoritarian rule.” —Publishers Weekly