Iron And Silk
This book was given to me by a good friend who knew that I had an interest in

Asia. I chose to read it because it was a true story and was told that it was a
good read. The author travels to China as an English teacher for the Hunan

Medical School. There he stayed for two years picking up many anecdotes along
the way. The author already had spent a large amount of his life studying

Chinese language and the martial arts. However, when he arrives in China he
meets teachers who have dedicated their entire lives to perfecting a particular
art or skill, whether it be martial arts or calligraphy. Mark Salzman was
perfecting his calligraphy skills and as weeks had passed he began to make
progress. He was getting tired of the models and wanted to try something new.

When he told Hai Bin,(his teacher), he frowned and said,"Some people spend
their entire lives researching a single model. You should be willing to spend a
year on this one." This is an example of the dedication and perseverance these
men have towards their chosen artform or skill. Another example of this theme,
was Markís Wushu teacher, Pan, who punched a fifty pound plate of steel up to
ten thousand times a day. Markís relentless practicing of the many forms of

Wushu was influenced by Pan. Salzman also showed that there was great
oppression. The people of China were under constant surveillance and control.

Rarely were they able to make important decisions for themselves. It was sad to
see that in a country with so many people there was so little freedom. The
government controlled everything from the railroad to the Rat Collection Office
to whether families and friends could mourn for lost loved-ones. Mark found this
way of life troublesome yet he had stay strong and focused for his calligraphy
and martial arts. Mark Salzmanís Iron and Silk did a wonderful job of
illustrating the people of China. He brought to life a corner of the world that
we would rarely be able to see, outside of picture books. His representation is
a very personal one, taking you beyond the scenery and into the action and
heartache. Throughout this book, Salzman expertly reveals the personality and
spirit of the Chinese people. He does this with his own type of special imagery.

He drops in enough key details and leaves the rest to your imagination. This
caused me to pay close attention to what was going on. His style of writing
makes you feel like you are right there beside him, participating in each of his
many escapades. I was influenced by the dedication his teachers had for their
chosen artform and will remind myself to use that dedication and perseverance in
my long-term goals. Mark Salzmanís purpose was to take you to China and
introduce you to the people he had met on his journey. He had published this
book only two years after he had gone to China. He desperately wanted to share
an outsiders look into China and what influences were in his life. Mark wrote so
fluidly that it was person to person. Anyone can pick up this book and be an
observer in the memories of the author. I found that my reading skills vary like
a roller coaster. I had days when I found my reading to be very choppy and I had
to remind myself to see the words in the book as speech and not words in a
book,(if that makes any sense). My vocabulary was up to par and the book was an
easy read. I began to use my speed reading techniques without discomfort near
the last few chapters in the book.