If there is one lesson that can be drawn from our current times it is that the instinct be true to oneself, and to live an authentic life is a universal one, even in the face of autocracy or terrorism. From a young girl agitating for education in Pakistan, to idealistic filmmakers in Iran, from punk poets in Russia to the demonstrators of the Arab Spring, all are proving that the desire to express who we really are is not a Western conceit, but an aspiration basic to us all...The Phoenix Years is the story of how that instinct is playing out in China, the most populous nation on earth, and now our globe's largest economy. It is the story of the struggle between personal aspiration and political control, which erupted almost 40 years ago in the wake of the Cultural Revolution and still defines China today. Through decades of extraordinary development China's leaders have sought to harness the creative energy of their nation while keeping it firmly under party control. Meanwhile another vision of the nation, in which individual freedom is basic, has staked its claim in thousands of actions big and small, from private moments of self-expression to public acts of defiance. The transformation of China is one of the great stories of this or any age. The Phoenix Years tells that story, and entwines it with another that speaks to all of us as citizens of the world: the story of people struggling for a way of living that is true to the most cherished instincts of our shared humanity...Journalist and foreign correspondent Madeleine O'Dea has been an eyewitness to the transformation of China and the rise and rise of its burgeoning art and literary scene and protest movement for over 30 years. She is on intimate terms with the key players, many of whom are now huge international stars, and is the perfect person to write this important and fascinating book. At once an accessible history of China as well as a chronicle of decades of breathtaking dissent against the State, both before and after Tianenmen Square, this is vital reading to anyone interested in China today.