《前不见古人,后不见来者》读后感

之前有读过 James McGregor 的《十亿消费者》一书,当时给了五星评价。前段日子听到有人在讨论这本书,顺手在 Amazon 上调查了一下,发现他在 2012 年出版了一本新书,也就是本文要谈到的《前不见古人,后不见来者》。

说实话,如果不是这本书里有解释书名来自唐诗《登幽州台歌》,我完全不会意识到英文 No Ancient Wisdom, No Followers 的含义和出处。虽然这首诗我也曾经学过且背诵过,但这是第一次看到英文翻译。我还奇怪为何在 Kindle 里这名字要全部大写呢……

James McGregor 作品《前不见古人,后不见来者》

总的来说,这本书虽然没有前一本写得那么引人入胜,但我还是会推荐每一个关心中国改革和经济发展的朋友买来看看。但我不认为这本书会有简体中文版,但繁体中文版《共和国的长子们》倒是在 2013年在台湾由天下杂志出版社出版,译者是李芳龄。有兴趣的朋友,不妨留意一下。

在这本书里,作者希望中国独有的“威权资本主义”拆碎了给你看。因此,作者先解释了此制度的来源,又演示了此制度给世界贸易带来的影响和挑战,最后还不忘借助分析智库报告的机会对于未来做出预测。

在阅读的过程中,我总是有一种“中国挟市场以令天下”的感觉。中国大陆拥有“十亿消费者”,这市场规模也算数一数二,加上一言堂风格的执政党,威权资本主义造就了让所有竞争对手都觉得麻烦的玩家。全书中我感受最深的一个例子莫过于银行卡,其实就是两大信用卡发卡组织(VISA,Mastercard)与中国银联的战争。我当然不爽中国银联不按照市场标准来的做法,要不然花旗银行不会同时发两张信用卡(一张银联,一张 VISA)给我。此外,我也不会忘记银联在 2006 年征收“跨行查询手续费”这件事情。

这本书分为五个部分,每个部分由好几篇短文组成。对于母语不为英文的人来说也不算难,我基本上都是用通勤和其他零碎时间慢慢读完。但这种结构很容易让我觉得这是一本作者的专栏合集,而且也没有发现什么作者自己的思考,基本上都是在引用各个智库的报告在说事。读完这本书之后,我倒是有兴趣去看看天则经济研究所的《国有企业的性质、表现与改革》和世界银行的《中国“2030”》报告。这两份文件倒是都有中文版,善于 Google 的你应该不难找到它们。

作者是 James McGregor,一位中国通。具体介绍我直接复制前一份读后感吧:

本书的作者 James Mc Gregor 在中国居住过 20 年(现在还在北京居住),上世纪 90 年代,他带着老婆以及两个行李箱来到台湾。他先后在华尔街时报台湾办公室和北京办公室工作过,后来担任过道琼斯公司中国区的负责人。再后来的事情就不清楚了,据 Wikipedia 的资料,他做过投资,也在公关公司做顾问。

如果你也想阅读这本《前不见古人,后不见来者》,你可以在 Amazon 上买到,售价为 4.39 美元(2014年4月13日查看)。

—– 以下是发布在 Amazon.com 上的评价 —–

James’ previous book One Billion Customers is a really good book on doing business in China. When I discovered his second book, which was published on 2012, it took me less than a minute to place the order. To be frank, I didn’t realize the title comes from a famous Chinese poem in Tang Dynasty. It was required to recite in junior high school. But it is the first time to meet the English version.

This book, however, is less enjoyable than the first one. But I will still recommend it to anyone who cares about China’s economy and reform. By the way, this book has been published in Taiwan, not in mainland China.

China seems to close the door once again. But this time, the lock up policy causes trouble to multinationals. Any market of this size can not be ignored. No opium trade nor battle ships are allowed this time. It seems no way to get access without compromise.

I’m personally a casualty in the credit card war between VISA, MasterCard and UnionPay. Citi Bank China gave me two separated credit cards at the same time. The one with UnionPay logo is for in China use and one with VISA for the rest of the world. It is the most ridiculous policy I’ve ever seen.

James wanted to show me every aspect of China’s authoritarian capitalism. Therefore, he explained where this came from, how it challenged the GATT/WTO system, and the future of this system. But he didn’t do it very well. It seems all his points are based on existing papers by Unirule and World Bank. In fact, I found there are few original findings by James.

So my suggestion is like this. If you have no idea of how to do business in China, read his first book One Billion Customers. If you need in depth info regarding Chinese economy, you could have a better choice than this one.

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