In 1957, after advocating reforms in the Communist Party, Fang - just twenty-one years old was dismissed from his position, stripped of his Party membership, and sent to be a farm laborer in a remote village. Over the next two decades, through the years of the Anti-Rightist Movement, the Great Leap Forward, and the Cultural Revolution, Fang several times was denounced and rehabilitated; in the process he saw the pettiness, absurdity, and horror of the regime's excesses. In time his struggle gathered widespread support, and by the late 1980s Deng Xiaoping viewed him as public enemy number one. When the crackdown came in June 1989, Fang and his wife took refuge in the U.S. embassy, where they hid for more than a year before being allowed to leave the country. During that time Fang wrote this memoir, a story he tells with vivid detail and disarming humour. It is a testament to the importance of remaining true to one's principles in an unprincipled time and place.
FANG LIZHI was an astrophysicist and vice president of the University of Science and Technology of China. A recipient of the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award, he was a professor of physics at the University of Arizona until his death in 2012. PERRY LINK, professor emeritus of East Asian Studies at Princeton University, teaches at University of California, Riverside. He is the author or editor of several books on Chinese literature, culture, and politics, including The Tiananmen Papers.