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Ian Johnson (1) (1962–)

Author of The Souls of China: The Return of Religion After Mao

For other authors named Ian Johnson, see the disambiguation page.

5 Works 343 Members 6 Reviews

About the Author

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Ian Johnson spent five years researching and writing this book, interviewing survivors, scouring archives, and pressuring governments to release sensitive intelligence documents. A reporter for the New York Times, he is also the author of Wild Grass: Three show more Portraits of Change in Modern China. show less

Works by Ian Johnson


Common Knowledge



Reads like the work of a pulitzer-winning journalist; this is not praise. There's a kind of middle-brow literariness to the book (the structure is rigid but cute; anecdote is multiplied to the near exclusion of analysis or explanation; everything is shown, and not told; it's as earnest as anything I've ever read). In short, it reminds me of a mid-century American novel, except one that is actually worth reading, because you will glean some information, at least. Johnson doesn't exactly do his authority any favors by claiming that, e.g., Calvinist = Reformed = Puritan; I honestly have no idea how much to trust his claims about 'religions' in China given that he's so willing to simplify the religions that are so much easier to understand for an American.… (more)
stillatim | Oct 23, 2020 |
I saw this one someone's must-read list of book about China and thought that I'd give it a try. Johnson's book contains three different stories about, as the subtitle says, change in modern China. Each of the stories are about different people dealing with different issues, but their stories are often parallel. The story that resounded with me the most was the young man who was trying to save some historic parts of Beijing. As I'd read a book about the city, which discusses the government's desire to get rid of everything old and rebuild, this just more depressing information. But overall the book is a fascinating look at what it's like to live (and die) and fight for change in China. Highly recommended for anyone remotely interested in Chinese culture.… (more)
callmecayce | 3 other reviews | Jan 4, 2013 |
As a mother who adopted my daughter from China in 2005, I read everything about China I can get my hands on and I have a library of books on China I am collecting and saving for my daughter.

Wild Grass is a must read for anyone who is serious about learning about Contemporary China, Chinese history and the lives and struggles of Chinese people.

It is especially valuable for parents adopting from China. We need a deeper understanding of China than the travel guides and a three-week visit can give us and we need to step beyond stereotypes of China to share China with our children Johnson reveals the realities our children from China could have faced had they stayed and the life struggles our children's biological birth parents and siblings face today. We can empathize and come to a greater understanding of our children's histories and culture and we can help our children understand through this book.

Johnson gives his insightful and perceptive view into Chinese lives that we can't get for ourselves. He allows us to imagine we are Chinese while we walk in the shoes of three different Chinese citizens. He describes life under communist party rule and some of the ways the Party inhibits personal freedoms... just like the one-child policy does...the basic freedoms many of us take for granted in the United States. Lucky for us, Johnson is an expert on China as well as a gifted writer and he weaves these stories like a mystery making them fun to read, fascinating and as quirky as China can be.

I hope this is only the first of Johnson's many books on China. There are simply not enough books with this caliber of writing to inform us about China. We are fortunate he is in China and continues to write.
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K892 | 3 other reviews | Dec 17, 2009 |
n the wake of the news that the 9/11 hijackers had lived in Europe, journalist Ian Johnson wondered how such a radical group could sink roots into Western soil. Most accounts reached back twenty years, to U.S. support of Islamist fighters in Afghanistan. But Johnson dug deeper, to the start of the Cold War, uncovering the untold story of a group of ex-Soviet Muslims who had defected to Germany during World War II. There, they had been fashioned into a well-oiled anti-Soviet propaganda machine. As that war ended and the Cold War began, West German and U.S. intelligence agents vied for control of this influential group. At the center of the covert tug of war was a quiet mosque in Munich—radical Islam’s first beachhead in the West.

Culled from an array of sources, including newly declassified documents, A Mosque in Munich interweaves the stories of several key players: a Nazi scholar turned postwar spymaster; key Muslim leaders across the globe, including members of the Muslim Brotherhood; and naïve CIA men eager to fight communism with a new weapon, Islam. A rare ground-level look at Cold War spying and a revelatory account of the West’s first, disastrous encounter with radical Islam, A Mosque in Munich is as captivating as it is crucial to our understanding the mistakes we are still making in our relationship with Islamists today.
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philiposlo | Dec 17, 2009 |



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