In This Review

After the Nightmare: A Survivor of the Cultural Revolution Reports on China Today
After the Nightmare: A Survivor of the Cultural Revolution Reports on China Today
By Liang Heng and Judith Shapiro
Knopf, 1986, 240 pp.

When Beijing cracked down on activists at the Hunan Teachers College in 1981, student leader Liang Heng was allowed to emigrate to the U.S. because his wife, Judith Shapiro, was American. They were also allowed to return to visit China and to travel without a state-sponsored guide. In a series of vignettes about the lives of individual Chinese men and women, the authors skillfully show both how much Deng's reforms have changed China as well as the substantial limits to change that still remain: feudal traditions of obedience, tight party control, privileges and abuses of power, no outlets for dissent, and internal struggles within the party leadership. The book does not attempt to analyze the broader significance of the reforms, but it is the best account yet published of what the changes mean for ordinary Chinese.