Criminal Mind

Bettmann / Corbis

The worst of times: Qiu is haunted by the Cultural Revolution

When Qiu Xiaolong was a boy in Shanghai, Red Guards loyal to Mao Zedong ransacked his parents' home. The thugs took jewelry, books and anything else associated with a bourgeois lifestyle. But they left a few photo magazines. In one, Qiu saw a picture of a woman wearing a red qipao, the form-hugging Chinese dress that became an emblem of capitalist decadence during the Cultural Revolution.

"When I first saw that picture, I was amazed by the beauty," says Qiu, now 54 years old and possessed of the pleasantly bookish air...

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