Salzman is a sweet guy, there's no doubt about it. his tales of his time in china are direct, cleanly written, and rooted in a clear love of the world around him and the people in it. he manages to effortlessly sidestep any potential landmines in terms of race, culture, or class simply by being himself - a warm, unpretentious and rather unsophisticated sweetheart. and Iron & Silk is a great mouthwash after reading the sour musings of the irritable and irritating Paul Theroux. but despite all of this travelogue's intrinsic sweetness, this is a rather forgettable personal narrative; conversely, Theroux's critical, often poisonous commentary linger in the mind far longer and seem rooted in a less idealized version of reality. one is a good man and the other is good writer. i liked Iron & Silk, i've recommended it to others, but the sad truth of the matter is that Salzman seems like the sort of good man that i'd like my daughter to marry rather than an interesting writer whose work i'd continue to read.