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Based on long-secret documents smuggled out of the country, this is the first authoritative biography of one of the most important, most mythologized leaders in the history of communist China. When a version of this biography was published in Hong Kong in 2003, people found in possession of it were disciplined. Works about Zhou Enlai are heavily censored in China, and every hint of criticism is removed. Research on Zhou at Chinese universities is effectively at a standstill because it is so politically sensitive that academics who insist on writing about him are forced to publish overseas, using fake names. Gao Wenjiang was in a unique position to collect information on his subject because he handled documents at the party's Central Documents Office relating to Zhou's life and work during the Cultural Revolution. When Gao decided to leave China after the Tiananmen Square crackdown, he determined to take with him the source materials to write a real story of a pivotal figure during the Cultural Revolution. He began to copy some documents related to Zhou onto cards and memorized others. For four years, he amassed an ermous collection of tes. He wrote the book in Chinese then revised it for this, the first English language edition. Why then is the subject of Zhou so sensitive to even the mildest and most judiciously expressed criticism? Not only was Zhou the internationally kwn face of China until his death in 1975, he is the one man whose reputation has survived, the last hero of the Cultural Revolution, an icon who allows modern Chinese to find an admirable figure in what was at traumatic and bloody era. He is the nearest thing to a modern saint. Gao Wenjiang offers an objective portrait of the real Zhou, a man who lived his life at the heart of Chinese politics for fifty years, who survived both the Long March and the Cultural Revolution, but t thanks to ideological or personal purity, but because he was artful, crafty and politically supple. He may have had the looks of a matinee idol, and Nixon may have called him the greatest statesman of our era , but Zhou's greatest gift was to survive, at almost any price, thanks to his acute understanding of where political power resided at any one time.
Gao Wenjiang worked for thirteen years as a senior researcher in the Communist Party's Central Documents Office before emigrating to the US in 1993.