The China we see today could not exist with the changes it has seen in the past, especially the past immediately preceding its the saturation point. In the seven years spanning the beginning of the 21st Century to the 2008 Olympics, the most dynamic country in the world saw more changes within its borders than any other country in human history. It saw more growth not just economically, but technologically and culturally. Gone were the days of the Little Red Book, which itself made money for foreigners and Chinese alike who saw its new value as a cultural memento, dissolving into a kitsch all its own.

This book is both a history book and an art book. It is also a personal account, detailing brushes with espionage, criminality, celebrities, the surreal and downright raciness, ending after a contract with Malaysia Airlines for a picture library afforded the author a return to New York in October 2008. At times the front row seat afforded in these pages may seem too close to the action, like being too close to a screen in a movie theater. But the particulars of this story are always conduit to the larger picture: China may not change as quickly as some want it to. But it is changing, slowly, reluctantly, kissing its past goodbye.

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