The Book of Secrets
The story of a family in modern China with a history of deceit, betrayal and political intrigue, and the communist party’s long shadow over them, from the Cultural Revolution to today.
Following the lives of military intelligence officer Jie and his wife Moon, The Book of Secrets weaves recently found material into a narrative that not only illuminates the shadowy world of intelligence in China, but also the emotional tragedies that political extremism inflicted on those working within.
Drawing on Jie’s own vivid biography of his youth, Xinran pieces together his trajectory as he joins the great hope of the Chinese young – the Communist Party – and becomes a loyal cadre until the late 1970s when, as a chief in the security forces, he makes a decision that will poison his family against him.
This is a totally unique behind-the-scenes account of a family torn apart by the Tiananmen Square massacre and the attempts of Jie to finally open up the Chinese system to the people, pieced together from an extraordinary archive of personal diaries and letters.
No one has done more than Xinran to tell the truth about the lives of ordinary people in twentieth-century China. Her Book of Secrets is a tale of horror, redeemed as always by the story-teller’s warmth, grace and narrative grip. * Hilary Spurling * An extraordinary book of huge historical interest and value, exactly the kind of book that the Western world needs to read, to understand the complexity of the Chinese political worldview since 1949. * Julia Lovell * Xinran’s talent is to survey the vast tidal waves of history and focus in on the human lives floating rudderless in their wake. This is a wonderful and compelling read. * Tim Clissold, author of Mr China and Cloud Chamber * Xinran recounts an epic journey through China’s recent history with a rare passion and clarity. The tale is seen through the tragic experience of a once powerful family, whose suffering she describes as though it were her own. * Patrick Marnham *
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