For anyone who thinks China's path to economic modernization is likely to be smooth, this important volume should be required reading. The author, a professor of Chinese language and literature at Princeton, arrived in China one year before Tiananmen, at a time when Chinese intellectuals were relatively free to say privately what they thought. He conducted in-depth interviews with some two dozen intellectuals, including natural and social scientists and humanists who spanned various age groups. The interviews reveal a class of deeply alienated individuals who believe that China is unable to make significant progress toward a modern society and economy in large part because of the Marxist-Leninist system, which stultifies development wherever it exists, including China. In sum, although China's Communist Party has not yet collapsed as in the former Soviet Union and eastern Europe, it no longer commands the loyalty of Chinese intellectuals.
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