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Osnos mentioned that Gong’s “medical bills plunged her parents into debt” but failed to explain that, contrary to what some readers might assume, China does not have universal “socialized medicine.”Another remarkable story involves a Chinese mother who makes Tiger Moms looks like slackers.

In her bestselling book “Harvard Girl,” Zhang Xinwu documented how she got her daughter into that elite school by toughening her up – having her hold ice cubes, run up stairs and study in noisy locations. Observing the Communist Party Congress, Osnos writes, “The choreography was flawless: every few minutes, a team of young women carrying thermoses of hot water, passed through the rows of VIPS, pouring tea with the precision of synchronized swimmers.”Another striver is Li Yang, whose Crazy English program has given him a rock star-like following, with students unleashing their “international muscles” by shouting their lessons.

China produces more carbon dioxide than any other country; its air, soil and water are laced with heavy metals and other toxins.

The gap between rich and poor is bigger than America’s.

“This book is an account of the collision of two forces: aspiration and authoritarianism,” Osnos writes, and he believes that only one can prevail.