“A great yarn . . . [Lustgarten] also accomplishes something more valuable: He provides insight into the seat-of-the-pants nature of many of China’s massive schemes.”—The Washington Post Book World
When the “sky train” to Tibet opened in 2006, the Chinese government fulfilled a fifty-year plan first envisioned by Mao Zedong. As China grew into an economic power, the railway had become an imperative, a critical component of China’s breakneck expansion and the final maneuver in strengthening the country’s grip over this last frontier.
In China’s Great Train, Abrahm Lustgarten, an investigative reporter with ProPublica, explores the lives of the Chinese and Tibetans swept up in the project. He follows Chinese engineer Zhang Luxin as he makes the train’s route over the treacherous mountains and permafrost possible (for now), and struggling Tibetan shopkeeper Renzin, who is caught in a boomtown that favors the Han Chinese. As the railway—the highest and steepest in the world—extends to Lhasa, their lives and communities fundamentally change, sometimes for the better, sometimes not.
Lustgarten offers an absorbing and provocative firsthand account of the promise and costs of the Chinese boom.