Evan Osnos
  • Age of Ambition Book Cover
  • In Age of Ambition, The New Yorker's longtime China Correspondent Evan Osnos describes the greatest collision in China today: the clash between the rise of the individual and the Communist Party’s struggle to retain control.

    Winner of the 2014 National Book Award

    "A riveting and troubling portrait of a people in a state of extreme anxiety about their identity, values and future."
    —The New York Times

    "A splendid and entertaining picture of 21st-century China."
    —The Wall Street Journal

    "In the pages of the New Yorker, Evan Osnos has portrayed, explained and poked fun at this new China better than any other writer from the West or the East. In “Age of Ambition,” Osnos takes his reporting a step further, illuminating what he calls China’s Gilded Age, its appetites, challenges and dilemmas, in a way few have done."
    —The Washington Post

    "By far the most thoughtful and well-crafted work on China written by an American journalist in recent years. What sets it apart from other reportage on China is the combination of fascinating storytelling, elegant writing, ingenious contextualization and deep insights.”
    —San Francisco Chronicle

    "A compelling history of China's Gilded Age through stories of its people."
    —Chicago Tribune

    "Eloquent and comprehensive."
    —The New York Times Sunday Book Review

    "Scintillating reportage with an eye for telling ironies that illuminate broader trends."
    —Publishers Weekly

    "A fluent, cohesive view of the country that goes to the heart of the conflict between Party control and the rise of the individual."
    —Financial Times

    "Osnos has adeptly chronicled the remarkable changes in the personal lives of the Chinese populace over the last 35 years, the tension that now animates the public-state relationship and the ideological stalemate bogging society down."
    —Los Angeles Times

    Order from the publisher
  • Articles
  • The New Yorker
    Published: 8.31.2015
    The Fearful and the Frustrated
    Donald Trump’s nationalist coalition takes shape—for now.
    On July 23rd, Donald Trump’s red-white-and-navy-blue Boeing 757 touched down in Laredo, Texas, where the temperature was climbing to a hundred and four degrees. In 1976, the Times introduced Trump, then a little-known builder, to readers as a “publicity shy” wunderkind who “looks ever so much like Robert Redford,” and quoted an admiring observation from the architect Der Scutt: “That Donald, he could sell sand to the Arabs.” Over the years, Trump honed a performer’s ear for the needs of his audience. He starred in “The Apprentice” for fourteen seasons, cultivating a lordly persona and a squint that combined Clint Eastwood on the high plains and Derek Zoolander on the runway. Once he emerged as the early front-runner for the Republican Presidential nomination, this summer, his airport comings and goings posed a delicate staging issue: a rogue wind off the tarmac could render his comb-over fully erect in front of the campaign paparazzi. So, in Laredo, Trump débuted a protective innovation: a baseball hat adorned with a campaign slogan that he recycled from Ronald Reagan’s 1980 run for the White House—“Make America Great Again!” The headwear, which had the rigid façade and the braided rope of a cruise-ship giveaway, added an expeditionary element to the day’s outfit, of blazer, pale slacks, golf shoes—well suited for a mission that he was describing as one of great personal risk. “I may never see you again, but we’re going to do it,” he told Fox News on the eve of the Texas visit.
  • The New Yorker
    Published: 4.6.2015
    Born Red
    How Xi Jinping, an unremarkable provincial administrator, became China’s most authoritarian leader since Mao.
    In anticipation of New Year’s Eve, 2014, Xi Jinping, the President of China and the General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party, permitted a camera crew to come into his office and record a message to the people. As a teen-ager, Xi had been sent to work on a farm; he was so delicate that other laborers rated him a six on a ten-point scale, “not even as high as the women,” he said later, with some embarrassment. Now, at sixty-one, Xi was five feet eleven, taller than any Chinese leader in nearly four decades, with a rich baritone and a confident heft. When he received a guest, he stood still, long arms slack, hair pomaded, a portrait of take-it-or-leave-it composure that induced his visitor to cross the room in pursuit of a handshake.
  • The New Yorker
    Published: 12.22.2014
    In the Land of the Possible
    Samantha Power has the President's ear. To what end?
    On July 17, 2013, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee met to consider the nomination of Samantha Power to be America’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations. She was an unusual choice. Although she had been a professor at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, and served on the National Security Council as the senior director for multilateral affairs and human rights, she had never been a diplomat. At forty-two, she would be the youngest-ever American Ambassador to the U.N.
  • The New Yorker
    Published: 10.13.2014
    Embrace the Irony
    Lawrence Lessig wants to reform campaign finance. All he needs is fifty billionaires.
    Last spring, Lawrence Lessig, a fifty-three-year-old Harvard legal theorist who opposes the influence of money in politics, launched a counterintuitive experiment: the Mayday PAC, a political-action committee that would spend millions of dollars in an attempt to elect congressional candidates who are intent on passing campaign-finance reform—and to defeat those who are not. It was a super PAC designed to drive its own species into extinction.
  • The New Yorker
    Published: 07.28.2014
    The Biden Agenda
    Reckoning with Ukraine and Iraq, and keeping an eye on 2016.
    At noon on Thursday, July 17th, Vice-President Joe Biden was on his way to Detroit for a day of light political fare: a fund-raiser, a community-college visit, a speech to progressive groups. Shortly before he landed, an aide told him that Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, en route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, had crashed in eastern Ukraine, an area controlled by pro-Russian separatists. Details were sketchy, but intelligence suggested that the Boeing 777-200, carrying two hundred and ninety-eight people, had been hit by a surface-to-air missile. There were no survivors. When Biden reached the dais at a convention center in Detroit, he said that the plane “apparently has been shot down.” He added, “Not an accident. Blown out of the sky.”
  • The New Yorker
    Published: 04.07.2014
    Chemical Valley
    The coal industry, the politicians, and the big spill.
    On the morning of Thursday, January 9, 2014, the people of Charleston, West Virginia, awoke to a strange tang in the air off the Elk River. It smelled like licorice. The occasional odor is part of life in Charleston, the state capital, which lies in an industrial area that takes flinty pride in the nickname Chemical Valley. In the nineteenth century, natural brine springs made the region one of America’s largest producers of salt. The saltworks gave rise to an industry that manufactured gunpowder, antifreeze, Agent Orange, and other “chemical magic,” as The Saturday Evening Post put it, in 1943. The image endured. Today, the Chemical Valley Roller Girls compete in Roller Derby events with a logo of a woman in fishnet stockings and a gas mask. After decades of slow decline, the local industry has revived in recent years, owing to the boom in cheap natural gas, which has made America one of the world’s most inexpensive places to make chemicals.
  • The New Yorker
    Published: 01.13.2014
    Confucius Comes Home
    Move over, Mao
    In my fifth year in Beijing, I moved into a one-story brick house beside the Confucius Temple, a seven-hundred-year-old shrine to China’s most important philosopher. The temple, which shared a wall with my kitchen, was silent. It had gnarled cypress trees and a wooden pavilion that loomed above my roof like a conscience. In the mornings, I took a cup of coffee outside and listened to the wakeup sounds next door: the brush of a broom across the flagstones, the squeak of a faucet, the hectoring of the magpies overhead.
  • The New Yorker
    Published: 12.16.2013
    Strong Vanilla
    The relentless rise of Kirsten Gillibrand
    Kirsten Gillibrand, the junior senator from New York, needs to pick up her five-year-old son, Henry, from his after-school program by 6 p.m. For every minute she is late, the school charges ten dollars. At 5 p.m. on November 12th, a Tuesday, Gillibrand still had two votes to cast and a meeting with Harry Reid, the Senate Majority Leader. Her husband, Jonathan, a financial consultant, works in New York City during the week, and, on short notice, she couldn’t find a sitter who was available before six-thirty. She ducked out of the Capitol and returned shortly afterward with Henry. She sat down with him in Reid’s office, where he busied himself with chicken fingers, chocolate milk, and a game of tic-tac-toe.