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Oliver August: Inside the red Mansion - on the trail of China's most wanted man
"Inside the Red Mansion" chronicles a suspenseful and slyly irreverent journey into the heart of the new China. The book is published by Houghton Mifflin (US) and John Murray (UK).

Due to a mix-up, Oliver August stumbles on to the hunt for China's most wanted man. Lai Changxing is an illiterate tycoon and on the run from corruption charges. Sensing something emblematic in his outsized tale of rise and fall, August tries to find the self-made billionaire and understand how he reinvented himself.

Lai embodies the story of China's recent success, as well as its Achilles heel. The blending of its command economy with the free market is riddled with corruption. Moving ever closer to the elusive tycoon, August's introduces us to a people in the midst of head-spinning self-transformation. We meet a nightclub hostess and her gaggle of "Miss Temporaries"; powerful businessmen on a debt settling round of nocturnal golf; and a foie gras king who markets his goose liver by the ton and prefers it deep fried. This is a China seething with desire, engaged in a slap-stick fight with its past, and hell bent on the future. 

 
 
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  Book cover: 'Along the wall and watchtowers' written by Oliver August  
In 1999, Oliver August published "Along the Wall and Watchtowers: A Journey down Germany's Divide" (HarperCollins).

The book took him on an 800 mile journey down the political faultline that separated Germany until the Berlin Wall came down. Along the way he met resentful former border guards, recalcitrant family members, uptight hitchhikers and towns that were split in half by the arbitrary frontier that made two countries out of one. "The border was defined not by geography but by people; the people it caged, the people fighting it and the people who controlled it".

Oliver's journey took place 50 years after his father had put a suitcase under a pile of cow dung and drove a horse-drawn cart from his house in the village of Ellrich to a nearby field owned by his family. At the time of the ride, which took him from the Soviet to the British zones of post-war Germany, it was casually policed by Soviet guards. A few years later it had become the frontline in the Cold War and, as the frontier between East and West Germany, one of the most fortified borders in the world.

 
 
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