In the early 1950s, LIU BINYAN was a tall, eloquent young man deeply devoted to the ideals of socialism and set for a brilliant career in the People's Republic of China. When he was purged from the Communist Party in 1957 for writing about corruption and banished to a poor mountain village, he suddenly found that there were "two diametrically opposed kinds of truth" in China. The "longings of the peasants" formed one kind, the "policies of the higher-ups" another. The rest of Liu's life—his sufferings as well as his remarkable achievements—followed from his choice to side with the first kind...

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