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Synopsis

From 2001 - 2004, Steve Koss lived in Suzhou, China, a city so renowned for its magnificent classical gardens, rich cultural heritage, and beautiful women that a centuries-old proverb describes it as paradise on Earth. There he met Ping Ping (his wife-to-be), lived in a middle class building in a neighborhood where foreigners were rarely seen, shopped the local markets, taught in the university, and became a guest teacher at two local high schools where he introduced those students (and their teachers) to Western life from The Simpsons and South Park to Christmas carols and poetry slams. With Ping Ping ever-present at his side, Steve explored the city?s ancient Buddhist temples, World Cultural Heritage gardens, and thousand-year-old Precious Belt Bridge as well as its quiet, canal-hugging lanes, newest shopping districts, and modern high-rise apartment complexes going up in the city?s two, rapidly expanding suburban industrial parks. Yet even as he was discovering a China few outsiders see, Steve watched the old city disappearing under waves of industrialization, Westernization, and massive urban renewal and expansion. Through his personal experiences and observations, Steve Koss captures the country?s poignant struggle to maintain its traditions while integrating new wealth, technology, and cultural influences from the West. His book opens a deeply personal window into the changing soul of an ancient city.

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