Books: Red Alert

FROM THE CENTER OF THE EARTH:

THE SEARCH FOR THE TRUTH ABOUT CHINA

by Richard Bernstein Little, Brown; 260 pages; $15.95

CHINA: ALIVE IN THE BITTER SEA

by Fox Butterfield

Times Books; 468 pages; $19.95

At a 1979 White House banquet honoring China's Vice Chairman Deng Xiaoping, Shirley MacLaine enthusiastically recalled a trip to the People's Republic and a meeting with a nuclear physicist. Since being sentenced to a commune to grow tomatoes, she told Deng, the scientist said he felt much happier and more productive. Replied Deng politely: "He lied." Such rosy reports have been...

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