’s new book, The Souls of China: The Return of Religion After Mao
(Pantheon, 2017), was called "a masterpiece of observation and empathy" by The New York Review of Books
, and The Economist
, who included the book on its Best of 2017 list, said the book, "Shows how a resurgence of faith is quietly changing the country." The Guardian
said the book is "full of moving encounters with Chinese citizens ... Johnson succeeds in having produced a nuanced group portrait of Chinese citizens striving for non-material answers in an era of frenetic materialism." I just finished the book myself and was stunning in its portrayals. If you hope to understand the trajectory of modern China, arguably the fastest-rising international superpower, understanding its spiritual traditions--Taoism, Christianity, folk religion, and Islam--will be helpful, if not essential.
A Pulitzer-Prize winning journalist, Ian Johnson is a regular contributor to The New York Review of Books
and The New York Time
s; his work has also appeared in The New Yorker
and National Geographic
. He is an advising editor for the Journal of Asian Studies and teaches courses on religion in Beijing. He is the author of The Souls of China, Wild Grass, A Mosque in Munich
, and The Rise of the Muslim Brotherhood in the West
Greg Soden is the host "Classical Ideas," a podcast about religion and religious ideas. You can find it on iTunes here.