When Peter Hessler went to China in the late 1990s, he expected to spend a couple of peaceful years teaching English in the town of Fuling on the Yangtze River. But what he experienced - the natural beauty, cultural tension, and complex process of understanding that takes place when one is thrust into a radically different society - surpassed anything he could have imagined. Hessler observes firsthand how major events such as the death of Deng Xiaoping, the return of Hong Kong to the mainland, and the controversial consturction of the Three Gorges Dam have affected even the people of a remote town like Fuling.
Poignant, thoughtful and utterly compelling, River Town is an unforgettable portrait of a place caught mid-river in time, much like China itself - a country seeking to understand both what it was and what it will one day become.
Peter Hessler is a graduate of Princeton and Oxford, and has written for The New Yorker, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Atlantic Monthly and other publications. Raised in the United States, he now lives in Beijing.