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My first trip to China was in May 1972, just three months after Nixon’s visit! I accompanied my husband, Jerome Cohen, who was the China adviser to a small delegation of the Federation of American Scientists invited on the first scientific exchange after 23 hostile years between the two countries...
One day in 2008, my 13-year-old daughter Lingling saw me organizing my grandfather Yan Cangshan's belongings. "Who is this?" she asked. "Was he very famous?" "He's your great-grandfather, my paternal grandfather," I responded. "He was a famous doctor of traditional medicine in Shanghai, and his...
“Shun” (舜) is a legendary leader of ancient China—one of the “Five Emperors”—who lived in 23rd-22nd century B.C.; it is also my name. Actually, my parents originally named me “Xin,” after the protagonist in the Japanese television show, Oshin . They hoped that like the protagonist, I would...
Charming. Above all, charming. I never thought I would write those words about a member of the Communist Party of China who, in the CPC’s traumatic early years when he was not yet twenty, associated with Mao Zedong, Zhou Enlai, Madame Sun Yatsen, Zhu De, and other historic leaders. Set during 1926-...
I was born in the Yijishan Hospital (originally an American missionary hospital) in Wuhu City, Anhui Province, on September 4, 1960. My father was a high school graduate who worked as a high-level mechanic at the Wuhu Shipyard. He also once worked as a pistol-packing security officer, charged with...
“Farewell to a classmate leaving the countryside to work in the city.” Drawing by Hu Ping, 1972. Courtesy of Hu Ping. No event has had a bigger influence on me than the Cultural Revolution. First, it is because the Cultural Revolution was a major event in its own right. Second, it is because of my...
The ups and downs in life are different for everyone. God gives each person different trials. Satan also tests people in many different ways. But fortunately, when God created human beings, the spirit he breathed into them constitutes common characteristics that make a person human: conscience, a...
In 1983, I spent five weeks traveling around China with my family on our first visit to the country. In those days, less than a decade after the death of Mao Zedong and the end of the Cultural Revolution, people were still wary of speaking to foreigners. Although my young daughter and I attracted...
This book demolishes one of the last surviving myths about communist rule in China: that there was a “Golden Era” from the time of “liberation” in 1949 until the launch of the Great Leap Forward in 1958. For too many people outside China, the idea has prevailed for too long that this was a period...
I’ve read about a dozen China prison memoirs over the years, and nothing has affected me the way Liao Yiwu’s prison diary has, with its detailed and graphic descriptions of prison life. I attribute the impact of this book to Liao’s skills as a poet, his writer’s nose for detail, and his willingness...

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