This book is sub-titled ‘The first impartial account by an insider, still living in China, of the background to events in Tiananmen Square.’ It is in fact a political thesis – and really not a new one – outlining the long struggle between hardliners and ‘reformers’ in the Chinese Communist Party.
The author and translator use pseudonyms because of ‘the great personal danger he or she faces as a result of having written this book’ but Duckworth, a most reputable publisher, guarantees the author’s credentials. Nevertheless one comes to such documents, especially from China, with caution. In 1911 a marvellous book, China under the Empress Dowager, was published telling of policies and intrigues at the time of the Boxer Rising. Years later it transpired that the diary of a high court official on which much of it was based was almost certainly forged by one of the authors, that wonderful old expatriate linguist, sinologue and fraud Edmund Backhouse.
In this case the author is described as ‘close to the highest levels of Party and Government in Peking’ but there is absolutely no reason to doubt the authenticity of the text, mainly because it would not matter where it had come from. It might as easily have been written