Blood Letters

The Untold Story of Lin Zhao, a Martyr in Mao’s China

Basic Books: The staggering story of the most important Chinese political dissident of the Mao era, a devout Christian who was imprisoned, tortured, and executed by the regime.

Blood Letters tells the astonishing tale of Lin Zhao, a poet and journalist arrested by the authorities in 1960 and executed eight years later, at the height of the Cultural Revolution. Openly and steadfastly opposing communism under Mao, she rooted her dissent in her Christian faith—and expressed it in long, prophetic writings done in her own blood, and at times on her clothes and on cloth torn from her bedsheets.

Miraculously, Lin Zhao’s prison writings survived, though they have only recently come to light. Drawing on these works and others from the years before her arrest, as well as interviews with her friends, her classmates, and other former political prisoners, Lian Xi paints an indelible portrait of courage and faith in the face of unrelenting evil.

Book Review: 

J.P. O’Malley, South China Morning Post (April 26, 2018)

Joseph C. Goulden, The Washington Times (March 18, 2018)

Amy Peterson, Christianity Today (February 20, 2018)

Kirkus Reviews (January 8, 2018)

Related Reading:

The Chinese Dissident Who Wrote in Blood,” Lian Xi, Wall Street Journal, April 13, 2018

Sensitive Words: Trying to Visit Lin Zhao’s Grave,” Anne Henochowicz, China Digital Times, May 6, 2015

Remembrance of Dissident Lin Zhao Obstructed on 45th Execution Anniversary,” Patrick Boehler, South China Morning Post, April 29, 2013

Author’s Recommendations:

How the Red Sun Rose: The Origin and Development of the Yan’an Rectification Movement, 1930–1945, Gao Hua (Chinese University Press, 2018; Chinese version published in 2000)

Tombstone: The Great Chinese Famine, 1958-1962, Yang Jisheng (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2013)

God Is Red: The Secret Story of How Christianity Survived and Flourished in Communist China, Liao Yiwu (HarperOne, 2012)