- The two mountains around Fuling are called the White Flat Mountain and Raise the Flag Mountain.
- In the 1950s and 1960s, Mao Zedong moved a lot of China's military industries to the interior of China for fear of America's nuclear capabilities.
- In China, less than two percent of the population goes to school beyond high school. (This book was written almost 20 years ago, so that number could certainly be higher now.)
- Fuling is essentially built on the mountainsides, so traffic is difficult. There are streets that switchback sharply up the hills, as well as lots and lots of staircases for pedestrians.
- The White Crane Ridge is a strip of sandstone in the middle of Fuling's harbor. Over the past millennium, various dynasties carved on it. You can only see the carvings when the waterline falls below that point. After the Three Gorges Dam was built, the White Crane Ridge was too far below the waterline to ever reemerge. However, they built an underwater museum so you can still visit it.
- The Three Gorges Dam is the largest hydroelectric dam in the world. The amount of electricity it produces is equivalent to ten nuclear reactors.
- Outside of the city of Yan'an are caves in the hills in which people still live today, with modern amenities such as refrigerators and TVs.
- You can't actually see the Great Wall of China from the moon.
- One out of every fifty people on earth comes from the region of Sichuan. (Again, this statistic is 20 years old. But I looked up the current population, and it's 87.26 million. That's quite a lot for an area not too much larger than the state of California.)
- The Chinese calendar is lunar, so every four years they need to add an entire extra month.
Premise of the book: Peter Hessler spent two years teaching English literature at a teachers' college in Fuling, China, as part of the Peace Corps. Fuling is at the convergence of the Wu and Yangtze Rivers, in an area which was scheduled to be partly flooded by the building of the Three Gorges Dam shortly after Hessler's time there. River Town gives a picture of China in the late 1990s, as well as what it was like to be an American in a small town.
Random Facts Learned By Reading This Book:
General thoughts on the book: This is my favorite book that I've read for my Circumreading the World challenge so far. Hessler deftly mixes anecdotes from his teaching experience with information about life in China, both as a foreigner and as someone who lives there. His perspective treats Chinese history with respect, but doesn't sugarcoat any of its difficulties. I found every page of this book fascinating, well-written, and compelling.
My name is Julie, and I own a lot of books. As in, they are stacked on the floor because I've run out of room on the shelves. And those shelves? There are so many books on them that they smile -- not sag; smile. This blog will cover book reviews and all manner of other bookish things.
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