A Single Pebble by J. Hersey

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A single Pebble is a short but extremely exciting and interesting novel about a young American engineer, who was sent to the Yangtze River in 1920 to discover it. As this river brought a lot of disaster to Chinese people of that time. The mission of the young man was to find out how to prevent people from disaster.
The story begins when the young man boards a Chinese junk for his voyage along the Yangtze. As the story begins, he thinks of himself as superior to the river people he meets along the way. He is well developed and book-learned, while they have a mostly oral tradition of learning. He counts the hours of his journey on his gold watch and observes that the owner of the junk and his wife, the cook, the head tracker and the rest of the trackers seem completely unaware of the passing of time. He comes to respect the love these people have of life and of the Great River.
But as the voyage goes on, the young “white” learns much about the traditions of Chinese people. He enjoys the poetry and stories they have been taught him. His new neighbors teach him of Chinese traditions, games and even songs. He listens as the head tracker, Old Pebble, sings beautiful melodies that give the trackers their rhythm. Finally, he finds himself looked down upon by some of the river people as different, as foreign, because he is not in touch with the land and the river. But anyway, he still doesn't understand why they are threatened by the thought of man changing the river, of building the dam.
Near the end of the book, Old Pebble loses his life to the Great River and the young engineer is forced to ask himself if he could have played a part in Old Pebble's death. Did Old Pebble simply fall? Was it an accident? Or, did he see his way of life about to change with the coming of technology and the prospect of the dam? Did he give himself to the river, unable to accept a change in the way the world had worked on the river for millennium?
The young engineer completes his journey and writes his recommendations for the dam.
The very interesting thing is, all his notes are taken as the journal and here you can see the part of it:
"Four months later I wrote an optimistic, even fervent, report on the possibilities of a dam in Yellow Cat Gorge, where, after further study, during a trip downriver by steamer, the site seemed to me the best of all. It is clear that nothing ever came of that report, or of me. Indeed, my great career began and ended with that sheaf of papers. It was dismissed and I was tagged by sound men as impractical. The tag is still on me. The dam is still to be built. It will be, one day-of that I am sure."
By the end of the book, the young man changes very much, he finally starts understanding the culture of folk Chinese people, their fears and values.
And the whole book is written in the journal style, which helps you imagine the actions and know the thoughts of the author. A lot of people like journal books not only because it is interesting, but because you can think of a real event that happened to someone in the past. This is what makes you read this book.
100% guarantee, you will like this book very much, as a lot of people did. Through the book, you will learn a lot about yourself as well.





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