The author is a writer-journalist, former party member and Marxist believer, who was purged from the party in 1957 and again in the late 1980s, and has been in the West since 1988. This book is based on a series of lectures he gave prior to Tiananmen plus a rather slight essay added after. His basic theme is the conflict between a rapidly changing Chinese society and an unresponsive party leadership. He predicts that China will be democratized not by a Gorbachev but by conflicts between the local regions and the center, in which democratic forces will gradually gain the upper hand. There is a particularly interesting lecture on the Chinese bureaucracy, which Liu estimates to number 20 million people.