In This Review

Life and Death in Shanghai
Life and Death in Shanghai
By Nien Cheng
547 pp, Grove Press, 1987

A gripping tale of one woman's struggle for dignity, indeed survival, amid the totalitarian excesses of the Cultural Revolution. Arrested in the summer of 1966, Cheng was held in solitary confinement for six and a half years on suspicion of espionage and treason. Her real crimes were her class background and a zest for life. Cheng's remarkable memory and political sense-although her only reading materials were the Shanghai Liberation Daily and Mao's collected works, she skillfully read between the lines and watched her guards to collect clues to the political winds blowing outside-enrich her account of those years that have remained so hidden from Western eyes. But it is the simple story of her will to survive that is so astonishing.