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Salzman captures post-cultural revolution China through his adventures as a young American English teacher in China and his shifu-tudi (master-student) relationship with China's foremost martial arts teacher.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780394755113
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date: 10/28/1987
Series: Vintage Departures Series
Pages: 224
Sales rank: 510,057
Product dimensions: 5.22(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.58(d)
Age Range: 14 - 18 Years

About the Author

Mark Salzman is the author of Iron & Silk, an account of his two years in China; Lost in Place, a memoir; and the novels The Laughing Sutra, The Soloist, and Lying Awake.

Table of Contents

A Piano-Teacher Wei-Hong Kong Foot-Myopia15
Peking Duck-Pan-A Fisherman Kissing-A Suicide51
Lessons-A Garden-A Short Story "Mei Banfa"-A Ghost Story81
Pan Learns Script-A Runaway Teacher Black-In a Gallery131
Unsuitable Reading-No Sad, No Cry Thinning Hair-Bad Elements159
"Don't You Know It's Snowing Out?"-A Coffee Shop Professor Jin181
A Rat-A Night Ride-The Long Swords197

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Iron & Silk 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 20 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A story of place and time that’s a fascinating contrast with today’s China.
msf59 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Salzman became infatuated with Chinese culture, after watching the television series ¿Kung Fu¿, at age thirteen. He received college degrees from Yale, in both Chinese language and Chinese literature.In the early 80s, he lands a job, in Changsha, China, teaching English to students and teachers at Hunan Medical College. This wonderful memoir, covers his time there. He studies martial arts & calligraphy, with various instructors, which is all fascinating but in these beautiful episodic tales, his deep love for the people and their culture, is what really shines through. It¿s funny, warm and touching. I cannot recommend it higher.
jnwelch on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
(The author of this memoir is having trouble getting on a train, that eventually will allow him to depart China for New York, because of paperwork and obstinate bureaucrats, and then comes across a policeman he is acquainted with who decides to help him)."He eventually suggested that I give a short martial arts demonstration there in the train station - 'Wouldn't that be fun?' He asked the people sitting on the long wooden benches in the station to make room for a performance . . . I warmed up for a few minutes, took off my shoes and began a routine. Somewhere in mid-air my pants split wide open, from the base of the zipper to the belt line in back. A crowd of giggling old ladies rushed forward with needles and thread ready, followed by an equal number of old men with incurable illnesses who believed that I must have learned traditional medicine as part of my martial arts training, convincing the officials to let me through without further delay. The policeman helped me get on the train, then sat with me until it began to move. He hopped off, wished me well, then saluted as the train left the station."Mark Salzman, the author of Iron and Silk, is an English teacher sent in the mid-1980s to teach for two years in Changsha, located in South Central China. It has more than a million people and is the capital of Hunan Province, located near Mao Tse Tung's birthplace. He is able to speak Mandarin fluently and Cantonese well, and it becomes apparent that he has an engaging personality that, coupled with the novelty of his being a white westerner, causes many of the Chinese he meets to go out of their way to help him. Needless to say, the environment is wildly different from what he has known. He is thrust into those differences immediately, as his assigned driver slingshots their van into the heavy traffic: "He swerved and braked violently to avoid pedestrians who darted into the road without looking, swarms of bicyclists who rode in the middle of the street, trucks, jeeps and huge buses that careened as if driven by madmen, and long carts piled sometimes ten feet high with construction materials, furniture, or tubs of human excrement {for fertilizer}, which were pulled by men dressed in rags, the veins of their necks and calves bulging from the strain." When he asks the driver, Comrade Hu, why everyone is continuously honking, the deadpan answer is, "Traffic Safety."This compact book is a remarkable memoir of Salzman's two year stay. Because he is curious and always open to friendship and adventure, he ends up finding himself in a number of unusual situations that allow the reader glimpses of what life in this part of the world is really like. He is befriended by a family of river fisherman who convince him to sleep over, and are fascinated by his singing of a Simon and Garfunkel song, but, as is tradition, use his cello playing as background music for chatting with one another. He is fortunate to have his new Chinese friends connect him to a number of martial arts teachers who take him far beyond his western training, most notably Pan, who Salzman recognized "immediately as one of the evil characters in {the famous martial arts movie} Shaolin Temple", who had choreographed and directed the martial arts scenes in that movie. Pan, known as "Iron Fist", had never taken on a private student, but saw something in Salzman after putting him on the spot for a demonstration at an elite martial arts academy. Their relationship is fascinating, and threads through a good part of the book.What is most striking is the generosity of the locals - the river fishermen feed and entertain him, and leave a basket with a huge fish on his doorstep. His mentor waits under a tree when he returns from a trip. "This was your first trip to China. How shameful it would be if no one greeted you when you came home." Others treat him like royalty in their home, or coach him in calligraphy and the mores of Chinese life. His class enjoys the intellectual freedom h
Othemts on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Mark Salzman came to speak at my high school and I was enraptured by his engaging speaking style and positive view of life. I immediately got this book and devoured it. It is a memoir of Salzman traveling to China to teach English and study martial arts. There is a lot of great insight about cultural differences and it is a funny and heartwarming story. Salzman has since become one of my favorite authors.
cestovatela on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A book I bought after months of seeing it prominently displayed on the travel shelf of my local bookstore. As a martial arts student and English teacher in China just after the Cultural Revolution, Mark Salzman has a unique perspective on China. Each of the 3 stories he tells -- of his students, his martial arts master, and the local fishmerman he befriended -- might have made an intriguing book on its own. Unfortunately, Salzman rushes through each element of his journey, depriving the book of the emotional resonance it might have had. It was easy to read and slipped out of my mind almost as soon as I put it down.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
There were parts i didnt understand abiut chinese policy and communism but i found all the characters super interesting and thought provoking. Glad i didnt buy this in the nook only the hunger games is worth that amount of money ha ha
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is SOOOO GOOD!!! You should read it! It is informative and enjoyable! My favorite story is when he goes to the fisherman's house and plays his cello for the family! Everyone is so nice there!
RebeccaScaglione More than 1 year ago
Iron & Silk by Mark Salzman is Mark's story of his time in China while teaching English.  Mark spent 1982-1984 in Chang-sha, Hunan teaching at Hunan Medical College. During his time there, Mark learned many Chinese techniques, such as multiple martial art forms as well as calligraphy.  He tells his story in Iron & Silk through short vignettes of his experiences. The cover of this book suffers from 1980s Disease (having been published in 1986), and looks like it would fit in perfectly in the intro to Saved by the Bell, but please, don't judge this book by it's tacky cover!  After all, just think of what YOU looked like in the 80s! I really enjoyed reading about Mark's time in China.  He experienced many unique things and was taught by one of China's greatest boxers. One of my favorite stories was about a time when Mark took a crowded train and was stuck across from two Chinese men who were obviously inebriated.  The men had been released from "corrective labor" for having stabbed someone, which they openly explained to Mark.  One of the men began telling Mark how excited he was to get to go home and see his mother, going on and on about it.  After a minute or two of this, his friend hit him hard.  When the first friend questioned about why, the second pointed to Mark (obviously an American foreigner) and said, "Because he's from far away.  He can't see his mom at all.  He doesn't need to know how happy you are." That story totally surprised me, and probably shattered some assumptions Mark had about the men. Do you have a good assumption-shattering story to tell? Thanks for reading, Rebecca @ Love at First Book
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Guest More than 1 year ago
Mark Salzman did a very good job describing his stay in China. He recorded his interactions with his students, his teachers, his friends, and the local peasants. The experiences he described had a touch of reality and truth, but they lacked enthusiasm. In the book, Salzman met many people, but he did not go into detail with his relationship with whomever he encountered. The book is a collection of short stories, but none of the stories related to other stories too well. The book also lacks a conclusion, and there wasn¿t a good transition from the present to the past in the first couple of chapters. Salzman failed to build the climaxes in his story; therefore, most of the stories seem quite dull and plain. Erm¿we ran out of time¿so read it yourself.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The experience that Salzman has is very interesting. Since the novel is broken in to small short stories, it is easy to read and enjoy. Some of the wording that the author used is confusing, therefore we give a four star rating.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Salzman approached the Chinese culture with an open mind. He accepted the new lifestyles that he encountered. He experienced many incidents that helped him perceive the Chinese customs in a positive and negative way. By interacting with the Chinese people, Salzman also broadened their understanding of different cultures beside their own when he introduced his own culture into theirs.
Guest More than 1 year ago
We really enjoyed Iron & Silk because the story is realistic. Mark Salzman is successful in painting a genuine picture of Chinese culture and its people through his experiences and observations. It is an excellent book for people who are interested in learning Chinese culture, especially martial arts. The writing is also easy to understand. In addition to being genuine and comprehensible, the book is humorous, such as the part where Master Pan is learning English.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Every small chapter show the chinese policy to control the people, torture them especially the intellectuals. I was in the same situation like teacher Wu, the foreign company where I worked was in the situation like Mr Mark in Hong Kong foot, the mistreatment that the civilians suffered was the same in Suicide... All information and advance in the world were avoid to publish to chinese people. Only if you live like the fisherman, didn't need to go to school, you felt comfortable because the Party, the government didn't pay attention to you. Consequence of the system : terrify people > must to obey > easy to manage > VALUE, TALENT, ABILITY can't develop > objective of the communist party.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book shares the name of the movie starring the author about his endeavor to study Kung Fu from an authentic Chinese master but learns more than just Kung Fu along the way. His teacher has since emigrated to Ontario,Canada..
Guest More than 1 year ago
I absolutely loved this book. It was writtin in a strange style of many short stories that together prove to be an interesting read for anyone who loves martial arts. His training is in great detail and the experiences he encouters are very interesting to read. Buy it now!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
The reader is given a realistic picture of China in the late 80s. Mark was dashing, adventurous, and amusing, but he didn't seem to concentrate on his job: teaching English! Two years after his book came out, while teaching in a nearby Chinese city, I personally talked with two teachers from the place where he taught and they relayed to me the consensus that Mr. Salzman was the WORST teacher they had ever had there!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I recieved this book in the mail and finished it the very same day. The stories are amazing and if you are a lover of martial arts like I am then you will truly be amazed and appreciate this book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was the best book that I have ever read. It is written as though Salzman was telling you the stories in person. It's an easy read and the collection of stories are incredible. If you want just a good book to read, this is the book to get.