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As Link says, it is honest and devoid of Communist ideology, the first honest account "free of Mao" to appear out of China. The writing is superb and the characters pop out of the page. Certain scenes are anthropological in detail, such as rural peasant life, and some of the prison descriptions are, according to Link, as good as anything of its type available.
Zhengguo never sacrificed his internal integrity, which made him a nail-head that attracted the notice of the Communist hammer, usually involving literature and books: Zhengguo was jailed for three years for requesting a library copy of Doctor Zhivago. Zhengguo says the purpose in writing his memoirs: "I sought salvation through describing my trials and tribulations in writing. My purpose was not merely to complain but rather to salvage my dignity through honest revelations about myself and everyone who had interacted with me, whether friend or foe." Zhengguo has obvious faults, there are times the reader wonders how he could be so foolish and stubborn, but anyone who is a devotee of books and the literary life will find in Zhengguo inspiration for a dignified life and personal integrity.Confessions: An Innnocent Life in Communist China Overview
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