Wild Grass

Three Stories of Change in Modern China

Three Stories of Change in Modern China


Wild Grass: Three Stories of Change in Modern China (Pantheon, 2004) looks at how an authoritarian government can keep up with the pressures for change from a rapidly modernizing society, where levels of education and prosperity are rising every day. Told through the eyes of three remarkably unremarkable people, the stories are also allegories for China's countryside, its cities and its spiritual realm.  For a full discussion of the ideas behind the book please go this site's project page "Civil Society in China."

Reviews  | Purchase


 中文版:Check out the Chinese edition at the publisher's website for a video introduction, or click here to buy via the Taiwanese bookstore Eslite. 

For a  review in Apple Daily of the Chinese edition's 2016 reissue, click here.




“A gripping tale of a very few ordinary people and their extraordinary courage in fighting for their rights against the Communist Party leviathan.” 
The Washington Post Book World 

“This year’s best general book on China.” 
China Economic Quarterly 

“…an elegantly written collection of tales of a few of the ‘thousands of ordinary Chinese’ pushing forward a ‘slow-motion revolution’. . . . Poignant. . . ” 
Boston Review 

 “A captivating and an important study of what is happening on the ground in China.” 
The Christian Science Monitor 
“Compelling. . . . Beautifully spare. . . . Johnson is to be commended for his sensitive rendering of his subjects.” 
The New York Times 

“Illuminating. . . .Johnson has not only lifted a corner of the curtain which covers China’s reality beyond its glittering eastern cities; he has drawn the whole curtain.” 
The Times Literary Supplement 

“Perhaps more than any other recent writer, Ian Johnson . . . captures [China’s] ‘slow-motion revolution.’ ” 
The Baltimore Sun 

“Wild Grass is journalism at its best.” 
South China Morning Post