Books: Greater Walls

CHINESE SHADOWS by Simon Leys Viking; 220 pages; $10

An old Chinese tale tells about a tyrannical prime minister of the 3rd century B.C. who assembled his courtier to test their loyalty. He had a deer brough before them and proclaimed it a horse. Those who imprudently disagreed paid the price of calling a horse a horse with their lives.

Chinese Shadows is a brilliant, uncompromising account of political distortion and sycophancy in contemporary China. Simon Leys, the pseudonym for Pierre Ryckmans, a distinguished Belgian-born Sinologist, lucidly argues that the Chin of Mao, so far...

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