The title of this book is a five-fold word play. The Dragon, of course, is China, and the several meanings of Scaling are the ways we present our experience of that country. By reading on you will find out what is in the book, but here we want to tell what is missing.
We came home with our portable computer filled with the equivalent of nearly a thousand pages. Some of it, we discovered, was interesting only to us and a few specialists---details of Chinese syntax, Ding Ding comic books. Some was available in other sources---descriptions of scenic and historical places. Some, if published, would harm or embarrass people we cared about---political and illegal behavior, personal relationships. To this last category belonged such interesting material we couldn't bear to leave it all out. We compromised by disguising identities, combining some characters and splitting others. Changed are names of people, institutions and locations to conceal the identity of our friends and to offer others the courtesy of denying their inclusion.
Chinese editors, deciding whether to publish works critical of Chairman Mao, were said to be guided by the rule that criticism is permitted if balanced by praise, the balance set at thirty percent criticism/seventy percent praise. Curiously, this ratio is exactly what Western psychological research determined to be optimally believable. Scaling the Dragon both criticizes and praises China; naturally, the ratio is thirty/seventy.
We are grateful to the State Education Committee of the Peoples Republic of China for generous financial support. To the many Chinese friends, colleagues and students who shared their lives and knowledge with us we have said, and say again, Feichang Ganxie! Thanks also to the Wuhan Office of the Bureau of Public Security for many hours of informative detainment.