The Most Wanted Man in China Summary and Reviews

The Most Wanted Man in China

My Journey from Scientist to Enemy of the State

by Fang Lizhi

The Most Wanted Man in China by Fang Lizhi X
The Most Wanted Man in China by Fang Lizhi
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  • Published in USA  Feb 2016
    352 pages
    Genre: Biography/Memoir

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Book Summary

The long-awaited memoir by Fang Lizhi, the celebrated physicist whose clashes with the Chinese regime helped inspire the Tiananmen Square protests.

Fang Lizhi was one of the most prominent scientists of the People's Republic of China; he worked on the country's first nuclear program and later became one of the world's leading astrophysicists. His devotion to science and the pursuit of truth led him to question the authority of the Communist regime. That got him in trouble.

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 Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution, he was alternately denounced and rehabilitated, revealing to him the pettiness, absurdity, and horror of the regime's excesses. He returned to more normal work in academia after the death of Mao Zedong in 1976, but the cycle soon began again. This time his struggle became a public cause, and his example helped inspire the Tiananmen Square protests.

Immediately after the crackdown in June 1989, Fang and his wife sought 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, which has never been published, until now. His story, told with vivid detail and disarming humor, is a testament to the importance of remaining true to one's principles in an unprincipled time and place.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Starred Review. Throughout the book, Fang is candid about the development of his thinking, and his prose is clean, readable, and often forceful. A wonderfully crafted memoir, shimmering with intellectual honesty." - Kirkus

"China's economic metamorphosis and the CPC's program for 'erasing the memory of protest' have blurred recollections of Tiananmen, as Fang predicted, but his book serves as a testimonial to the students killed there." - Publishers Weekly

"The Most Wanted Man in China is a remarkable memoir, full of candor, insight, and wit. Fang Lizhi writes with ease and precision and astute intelligence." - Ha Jin, author of Waiting and War Trash

"A remarkable story, told with honesty and eloquence." - Jung Chang, author of Wild Swans

"Fang Lizhi's memoir is the most biting and the wittiest critique to date of the Chinese Communist Party and its leaders ... His observations are at once comic and tragic, making the book a pleasure to read." - James Mann, author of Beijing Jeep, About Face: A History of America's Curious Relationship with China, and The China Fantasy

"The Most Wanted Man in China makes for wistful reading. Beautifully translated by Perry Link, it is a pleasant reminder of what an interesting, truthful and intellectually wide-ranging man the Chinese astrophysicist Fang Lizhi actually was." - Orville Schell, Arthur Ross Director, Center on U.S.-China Relations, Asia Society

"Always engaging and frequently downright funny, Fang shows us the true meaning of free thinking in an authoritarian state. His story is critical to understanding today's China." - Kenneth Roth, executive director, Human Rights Watch

"Anyone who seeks an understanding of China's past, present, and future should start here." - Ying-shih Yu, professor emeritus of Chinese history, Princeton University

"Fang Lizhi was a courageous and idealistic scientist whose life played out against the turbulent background of a fast-changing China. His engaging personality, his huge talent, his resilience in the face of hardship and political pressure, and (above all) his integrity shine through in this fascinating memoir." - Martin Rees, fellow and former master of Trinity College, Cambridge; former president of the Royal Society; and Astronomer Royal

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Author Information

Fang Lizhi

Fang Lizhi was an astrophysicist and the 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 the University of California, Riverside. He is the author or editor of several books on Chinese literature, culture, and politics, including The Tiananmen Papers.

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