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Forged in Purgatory Paperback – September 19, 2011
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"After finishing the book, I was truly overwhelmed. I've read many books about the Cultural Revolution, but Forged in Purgatory is the best. Through the book I see an extraordinary experience, a deep contemplation and the exceptional integrity of a senior Communist party member."
-Yu Lei, Former PRC Deputy Minister of Public Security
"Floating between the lines of Forged in Purgatory is Wang's noble credo of 'showing no remorse when facing Heaven and Earth'. In such a difficult environment, Wang was still able to face life with extraordinary optimism; this proves that he is a truly upright man, made of sterner stuff."
-Bian Zushan, First-Class National Conductor, China
"What is written in 'Forged in Purgatory' is not only the personal experience of Wang Zhongfang, but a historical testimony showing the hardship people went through during the Cultural Revolution in China."
-Lin Baiye, Professor of PLA University of National Defense, China
"Forged in Purgatory demonstrates how important it is to have an optimistic spirit, especially when one is surrounded by adversity. This book is no doubt an excellent educational material for young people nowadays, about upholding one's standards and beliefs."
-Liang Sicui, Secretary of Luo Ruiqing (Former PLA Chief)
"Wang prevailed in the face of humiliation and brutality and was able to maintain his dignity and moral compass. He came through the Cultural Revolution stronger and wiser, but at a price for him and his family. I deeply appreciated the book and the wisdom I garnered from it."
-Seymour H. Chalif, Senior Counsel (Ret), KayeScholer
"In Forged in Purgatory, a high-ranking Chinese cadre tells the story of his persecution during the cultural revolution. His book makes a valuable contribution to the political and personal history of that turbulent time."
-Andrew J. Nathan, author of The Tiananmen Papers, Class of 1919 Professor of Political Science, Columbia University
"On one level, this book is about a remarkable, resourceful and ingenious person with an indomitable spirit who survived against all odds.But on a deeper level, this is about a country torn apart by the madness of a single person, who was worshipped by his people as a great leader, great teacher, great supreme commander and great helmsman but who cared more for himself than for his people."
-Frank Ching, columnist and professor at HKUST and CUHK
From the Author
Why I Wrote Forged in Purgatory
From 1967 to 1972, during the unprecedented chaos of the "Cultural Revolution", Lin Biao and the Gang of Four imprisoned me for more than five years. July of 2002 marked 30 years since my release from prison. Memories of the past fade over time and I fear that one day these events will be forgotten. Whenever I open the gate to my memories, however, history appears right in front of my eyes, one scene after another, as if the events of three decades ago just happened yesterday. These troubled times are etched deeply in my memory and eventually I couldn't help but put my thoughts in writing. After much reflection, countless struggles over editing, and many revisions, all geared towards evoking the lessons of the past, this book was created.
Readers may ask why I chose "Forged in Purgatory" as the title. In the Great Dictionary of the Chinese Language, "purgatory" is described as a tough environment that makes humans experience great suffering. It is important to me that the ordeals people have undergone amid particular circumstances are recorded for history. Prison, like a steel-making furnace, is truly a form of purgatory. One may not reasonably expect to sail on smooth water for an entire lifetime as one will likely encounter stormy waves along the way. Many of these waves come from unexpected heady tempests. What should one do? In my case, I remember calmly walking to the prison van holding my own washbasin, toothbrush and towel. I faced my impending ordeals with ease and confidence. I did not lose my will and sink when the storm came. I've always believed that no matter how high the waves are, one day the troubled waters will grow peaceful again; no matter how difficult my ordeals, they would one day end. And on that day, I would emerge from the furnace, cross the mountain of flames and proudly forge my own path.
History, like wine, must be preserved over time. Thirty years have passed and time has made this piece of history clearer than ever. I can now look into the past with peace and draw conclusions about the period I lived through.
I also wrote this book to preserve some of the most precious historical materials of the era. I knew I needed to find a reliable home for these memories and that the best place was in the public's hands, with the readers: in a reader's mind, such valuable materials can be preserved for all of time. That is also why many photographs are included in this book.
Throughout the writing process, I was touched by the responses of readers. After the book's Chinese-language edition was published, many wrote, called and even met me in person to tell me how they felt after reading the book. I connected with these readers both mentally and spiritually. All the friendly, sincere and honest opinions I received gave me great warmth and encouragement.
Due to the support of a vast group of readers, the five thousand copies of the first Chinese edition sold out very quickly. With the help of comments I received, I have made some revisions, published a second edition, and replaced some of the duplicated illustrations with the originals. I have also added the article The Entanglement, written by my wife Shi Luoming, as a postscript. She wrote the article when I was imprisoned. Although she was outside the prison and facing different circumstances, her suffering was the same as mine. Forged in Purgatory and The Entanglement are twins born in a time of difficulty. Upon the republishing of this book in the English language, I would like to take this opportunity to, from the bottom of my heart, again thank my friends who gave me their opinions and supported the publication of this book.