Aiping Mu was born to parents prominent in the Communist hierarchy - her father was Political Commissar for the Beijing region and her mother ran one of the city's universities - and in her early years lived the pampered life of the Party elite: luxury housing, guards, servants and private schooling. Both parents were considered intellectuals within the Party and from the start experienced the factional in-fighting and periodic purges which culminated decades later in the Cultural Revolution and the break-up of the family. Aiping herself was one of the first Red Guards before being denounced as a bourgeois intellectual and exiled to a remote province. Whilst following one family's rising and falling fortunes, this biography tells the story of modern China itself, written from the perspective of one who grew up close to the seat of power in history (whether as revolutionaries or Red Guard). With insights into the life of the political elite and the mechanics of power and patronage in Beijing, the focus is also upon more domestic issues such as the family and the role of women.
Aiping Mu left China, her family and 6-year-old son in 1988. The crashing of the Democracy movement in Tiananmen Square a year later means she has only recently been able to return.