An Amazon Best History Book of the Month
Long-listed for the 2019 Northern California Golden Poppy Book Award in Nonfiction
"Sheehan cuts right to the heart of the relationship between Silicon Valley and China: the tangled history, the current tensions, and the uncertain future. The Transpacific Experiment is a must-read." Kai-Fu Lee, former president of Google China and founder of Sinovation Ventures
"Entertaining . . . As the trade war between China and the U.S. intensifies, the need for a deeper understanding of how the two countries interact has become more urgent than ever. The encounters between individuals from the world’s largest and second-largest economies are rich with storytelling potential and opportunities to draw cross-cultural insights." The Wall Street Journal
"Judging by his intelligent first book, Sheehan is a reporter we’ll look to in years ahead as we try to understand the nuances of the ever-shifting China-U.S. relationship." Kevin Canfield, San Francisco Chronicle
“A revealing, refreshing dive into one of the most telling nexuses of the U.S.–China relationship. Sheehan’s colorful odyssey from college campuses to Beijing start-up land is a well-drawn portrait of how the two countries are forging our economic future." Te-Ping Chen, reporter for The Wall Street Journal
"Nuanced, layered, and engaging, Matt Sheehan’s The Transpacific Experiment offers a fresh take on how China’s rise affects America, and how America affects China’s rise, through rich reporting in his home state of California, with a perspective gleaned from years of living and reporting in China." Mary Kay Magistad, former China correspondent for NPR and PRI’s The World, current host of the Whose Century Is It? podcast
"A timely reminder that the United States-China relationship has been instrumental in the growth of a prized cornerstone of the U.S. economyCalifornia, and more specifically, Silicon Valley. Sheehan, a Paulson Institute fellow, lays out how the human and financial capital shared between China and California helped facilitate the development of two massive tech industries, along with some unexpected consequences." Michael Zelenko, OneZero
"Timely reading in an era of looming trade wars and the decline of American economic supremacy." Kirkus Reviews
“A timely and important book. Matt Sheehan observes and navigates with skill the shifting currents of the relationship between California and China, the most important economic underpinning at times both uniting and dividing the United States and China. From Silicon Valley to Hollywood, from college campuses to real estate brokers to struggling industrial zones, Sheehan chronicles with aplomb the Chinese talent and capital that has arrived over the past decade and the questions growing within both nations about their relationship with each other, with California, as ever, at the frontier.” Duncan Clark, author of Alibaba: The House that Jack Ma Built
"Even amidst an escalating and so-far attritious trade war between China and the United States, there is one state that has acted as a laboratory for the relationship between the two countriesCalifornia. Matt Sheehan spent six years examining the 'fluid ecosystem of students, entrepreneurs, investors, immigrants, and ideas bouncing back and forth between the Golden State and the Middle Kingdom.'" Dylan Schleicher, Porchlight
The United States and China are rivals on many fronts—and in California, "the world's two most powerful countries are meeting, cooperating, and competing."
Journalist Sheehan, a Californian who logged more than five years working in China, turns in a suggestive portrait of a place in which Chinese money has been responsible for no small amount of economic activity: the San Francisco Shipyards, say, "the city's largest housing and retail development in decades," and Hollywood, where many of today's blockbusters have Chinese backing. In exchange, California-based companies such as Apple and Google have provided a lucrative outlet for Chinese manufacture while introducing new technologies into the Chinese market. In all, writes the author, China has reversed the position it held a century ago, a poor country whose chief export was labor. It has done so in at least some respects by shaping an image of California to suit itself: "blue skies, top universities, innovative technology, and global blockbusters." The transformation has left China less dependent on outside markets—where Chinese graduate students in American universities once remained here, by one measure, most now return home with their advanced learning and skills—but has not substantially diminished the relationship between what Sheehan characterizes as America's most liberal state and a stubbornly totalitarian government. Politics enters the picture along several fronts. Sheehan notes, for one thing, that whereas for generations California's Chinese-descended population has been reliably Democratic, new immigrants, scornful of their predecessors, are often volubly conservative. Chinese companies have made missteps in California, notably in Hollywood, and American firms have made missteps in China, as when eBay opened the door for the emergence of Jack Ma's giant Alibaba firm and was forced to retreat from the Chinese market, "the first time a Chinese internet company had gone head-to-head with its American rival and won." Though the relationship has lately been troubled, Sheehan foresees continued interactions and mutual influence in decades to come.
Timely reading in an era of looming trade wars and the decline of American economic supremacy.