The Most Wanted Man in China: My Journey from Scientist to Enemy of the State (Hardcover)

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The long-awaited memoir by Fang Lizhi, the celebrated physicist whose clashes with the Chinese regime helped inspire the Tiananmen Square protests

Fang Lizhi was one of the most prominent scientists of the People's Republic of China; he worked on the country's first nuclear program and later became one of the world's leading astrophysicists. His devotion to science and the pursuit of truth led him to question the authority of the Communist regime. That got him in trouble.

In 1957, after advocating reforms in the Communist Party, Fang -- just twenty-one years old -- was dismissed from his position, stripped of his Party membership, and sent to be a farm laborer in a remote village. Over the next two decades, through the years of the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution, he was alternately denounced and rehabilitated, revealing to him the pettiness, absurdity, and horror of the regime's excesses. He returned to more normal work in academia after the death of Mao Zedong in 1976, but the cycle soon began again. This time his struggle became a public cause, and his example helped inspire the Tiananmen Square protests.

Immediately after the crackdown in June 1989, Fang and his wife sought refuge in the U.S. embassy, where they hid for more than a year before being allowed to leave the country. During that time Fang wrote this memoir The Most Wanted Man in China, which has never been published, until now. His story, told with vivid detail and disarming humor, is a testament to the importance of remaining true to one's principles in an unprincipled time and place.

About the Author


Fang Lizhi was an astrophysicist and the vice president of the University of Science and Technology of China. A recipient of the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award, he was a professor of physics at the University of Arizona until his death in 2012.

Praise For…


"Though composed in the heat and terror of a dangerous moment, this is a remarkably cool, precise and in places even good-humored book; Fang generally prefers to lampoon China's authoritarian bureaucracy than to dwell on his own suffering. . . . His book is a manifesto of the sort Galileo might have written had he been a Chinese physicist in the middle of the 20th century."—The New York Times Book Review

“[The Most Wanted Man in China is a] thoughtful, funny, and still relevant memoir that recalls those tense days and years leading up to them....Fang’s account of his final collision with the regime is suspenseful even how. He writes with wry humor that belies the danger he faced, and he displays a disarming modesty about his achievements.” —The Wall Street Journal

“Fang Lizhi, the astrophysicist who inspired Chinese pro-democracy student protesters in the late 1980s, gives a fascinating and insightful account of his life in a memoir now published nearly four years after his death in exile.”—The Washington Post

“An eloquent voice in the advocacy of human rights…The Most Wanted Man in China is both a memoir and a personal testament of Fang Lizhi—a renowned scientist, humane scholar, political activist, intractable enemy of authoritarian government, and courageous advocate of human rights. And, unusual for this grim subject, it is a tale told with humor as well as deep introspection.”—Science

“Inspiring…This memoir by late Chinese astrophysicist and dissident Fang Lizhi is a trenchant explication of science under siege…. Although his youthful love for Communism withered during [the Cultural Revolution]…. Fang’s ‘awe at the colossal thing called the universe’ never waned, surviving surveillance and exile.”—Nature

The Most Wanted Man in China is a remarkable memoir, full of candor, insight, and wit. Fang Lizhi writes with ease and precision and astute intelligence. He shows how a society was corrupted and shaped by absolute power and how the people suffered but managed to survive. It is an informative and intimate book.” —Ha Jin, author of Waiting and War Trash

“A remarkable story, told with honesty and eloquence.” —Jung Chang, author of Wild Swans

“Fang Lizhi’s memoir is the most biting and the wittiest critique to date of the Chinese Communist Party and its leaders. One of China’s leading scientists, Fang explores the absurdities in the party’s logic, its hypocrisies and cruelties. His observations are at once comic and tragic, making the book a pleasure to read.” —James Mann, author of Beijing Jeep, About Face: A History of America’s Curious Relationship with China, and The China Fantasy

The Most Wanted Man in China makes for wistful reading. Beautifully translated by Perry Link, it is a pleasant reminder of what an interesting, truthful and intellectually wide-ranging man the Chinese astrophysicist Fang Lizhi actually was. But it is also a sad reminder of how the rigidity of the Chinese Communist Party has too often prevented it from finding a way of embracing so many of China's most creative, honest, thoughtful, and eloquent citizens.” —Orville Schell, Arthur Ross Director, Center on U.S.-China Relations, Asia Society

“Like the great dissidents of the Soviet era, Fang Lizhi was a world-class scientist who came to the human rights cause through a pure and unflinching intellectual honesty. This vivid memoir ranges broadly across China’s turbulent twentieth century, from the privileged realms of its intelligentsia to the destitute farmland of its peasantry. Always engaging and frequently downright funny, Fang shows us the true meaning of free thinking in an authoritarian state. His story is critical to understanding today’s China.” —Kenneth Roth, executive director, Human Rights Watch

“Fang Lizhi, a first-rate scientist as well as a democracy proponent who pushed history forward, might be called the perfect crystallization of China’s May Fourth ideals of science and democracy. Anyone who seeks an understanding of China’s past, present, and future should start here.” —Ying-shih Yu, professor emeritus of Chinese history, Princeton University

“Fang Lizhi was a courageous and idealistic scientist whose life played out against the turbulent background of a fast-changing China. His engaging personality, his huge talent, his resilience in the face of hardship and political pressure, and (above all) his integrity shine through in this fascinating memoir.”—Martin Rees, fellow and former master of Trinity College, Cambridge; former president of the Royal Society; and Astronomer Royal



Product Details
ISBN: 9781627794992
ISBN-10: 1627794999
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.
Publication Date: February 9th, 2016
Pages: 352
Language: English