Journalist and blogger Tom Scocca followed his wife (and her new job assignment) to Beijing in 2004, arriving just as the city was beginning its preparations as future host of the Olympic Games. Though Beijing Welcomes You looks backward to an important transitional time in China's ascent to global power, it follows a mostly forward path through the city's countdown to the Games. (The book's title refers to a popular Chinese song written to promote the Games.)
Luckily for the reader, Scocca is industrious and, frankly, brave in both his journalistic and touristic travels in Beijing. He studies the scientific attempts to control the weather and the air quality of the city, and considers the behavioral modifications recommended to Beijing's citizens (control of spitting and the formation of orderly lines seemed to be primary goals). He appreciates the architectural achievements of the new sporting venues and documents the beautification of the new Beijing, often at the cost of the historical charms of the old city. Scocca's tenacity and curiosity led him to interview politicans, scientists, designers, athletes and ordinary citizens, and to participate in Beijing's cultural and civic offerings, all of which clearly enriched his story.
Beijing Welcomes You is an entertaining account of the city's transition into the future, prompted by the social, political and environmental challenges of hosting the Olympic Games. --Roni K. Devlin, owner of Literary Life Bookstore & More