Blood Letters

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


By Lian Xi

Formats and Prices




$39.00 CAD

This item is a preorder. Your payment method will be charged immediately, and the product is expected to ship on or around March 20, 2018. This date is subject to change due to shipping delays beyond our control.

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. The only Chinese citizen known to have openly and steadfastly opposed 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.



ON MAY 31, 1965, THIRTY-THREE-YEAR-OLD LIN ZHAO—POET, JOURNALIST, dissident—was tried in the Jing’an District People’s Court in Shanghai. She was charged as the lead member of a “counterrevolutionary clique” that had published A Spark of Fire, an underground journal that decried Communist misrule and Mao’s Great Leap Forward, which caused an unprecedented famine in 1959–1961 and claimed at least thirty-six million lives nationwide.1

Lin Zhao had also contributed a long poem entitled “A Day in Prometheus’s Passion” to the journal. It mocked Mao as a villainous Zeus trying, and failing, to force Prometheus to put out the fire of freedom taken from heaven. According to the authorities, the poem “viciously attacked” the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and the socialist system and inspired fellow counterrevolutionaries to “blatantly call for ‘a peaceful, democratic, and free’” China.2 She was sentenced to twenty years in prison.

“This is a shameful ruling!” Lin Zhao wrote on the back of the verdict the next day, in her own blood. “But I heard it with pride! It is the enemy’s estimation of my individual act of combat. Deep inside my heart I feel the pride of a combatant! I have done too little. It is far from enough. Yes, I must do more to live up to your estimation! Other than that, this so-called ruling is completely meaningless to me! I despise it!”3

It was an unexpected, jarring note in the symphony of Mao’s revolution. The Communist movement, which began in the 1920s and which Mao had led since the 1930s, had triumphed with the founding of the People’s Republic in 1949. The revolution had turned communism into a sacred creed and a mass religion in China, complete with its Marxist and Maoist scriptures, priests (the cadres), and revolutionary liturgy.

The cult of Mao dated to the 1940s but blossomed with the publication of Quotations from Chairman Mao—known in the West as The Little Red Book—in 1964. Over one billion copies were printed over the next decade. During the Cultural Revolution, launched in 1966, collective rituals of slogan chanting and of waving The Little Red Book were performed daily in front of the portrait of the “great leader.” Meanwhile, some 4.8 billion Mao badges were made. The largest was as big as a soccer ball.4

Sacrilege was hard to imagine and rare. Even those condemned “counterrevolutionaries” sent to execution grounds had often chanted “Long live Chairman Mao” as shots were fired, in a last-ditch effort to escape the wrath of the revolution and to attest their loyalty to it.5

At a time when critics of the party had been silenced throughout China, Lin Zhao chose to oppose it openly from her prison cell. “From the day of my arrest I have declared in front of those Communists my identity as a resister,” she wrote in a blood letter to her mother from prison. “I have been open in my basic stand as a freedom fighter against communism and against tyranny.”6

Lin Zhao’s dissent seemed as futile as it was suicidal. What sustained it was her intense religious faith. She had been baptized in her teens at the Laura Haygood Memorial School, a Southern Methodist mission school in her hometown of Suzhou, but drifted away from the church when she joined the Communist revolution in 1949 to help “emancipate” the masses and create a new, just society, as she believed. Her disenchantment with the revolution came in the late 1950s, when she was purged as a Rightist—along with at least 1.2 million others across China—for expressing democratic ideas.7 Thereafter she gradually returned to a fervent Christian faith.

As a Christian, she believed that her struggle was both political and spiritual. In a postsentencing letter from prison to the editors of People’s Daily—the party’s mouthpiece—she explained that, in opposing communism, she was following “the line of a servant of God, the political line of Christ.” “My life belongs to God,” she claimed. God willing, she would be able to live. “But if God wants me to become a willing martyr, I will only be grateful from the bottom of my heart for the honor He bestows on me!”8

Lin Zhao’s defiance of the regime was unparalleled in Mao’s China. The tens of millions who perished as the direct result of the CCP rule died as victims, their voices unheard. No significant, secular opposition to the ideology of communism was recorded in China during Mao’s reign.9 Lin Zhao endured as a resister because of her democratic ideals and because her Christian faith enabled her to preserve her moral autonomy as well as political judgment, which the Communist state had denied its citizens. Her faith provided a counterweight to the religion of Maoism and sustained her in her dissent.

THE TITLE OF this book comes from Lin Zhao’s impassioned means of expressing that dissent. “During her imprisonment,” an official document read, Lin Zhao “poked her flesh countless times and used her filthy blood to write hundreds of thousands of words of extremely reactionary, extremely malicious letters, notes, and diaries, madly attacking, abusing, and slandering our party and its leader.”10 Her letters were addressed variously to the party propaganda apparatus, the United Nations, the prison authorities, and her mother. She called them her “freedom writings.”

“As a human being, I fight for my right to live a whole, upright, and clean life—my right to life,” she explained. “It shall forever be an irreproachable struggle! Nobody has the right to tell me: in order to live, you must have chains on your neck and endure the humiliation of slavery.”11

Lin Zhao’s prison writings, which total some 500,000 characters, include essays, poems, letters, and even a play. She wrote in both ink and blood, using the latter when she was denied stationery or as an extreme act of protest. She drew blood with a makeshift prick—a bamboo pick, a hair clip, or the plastic handle of her toothbrush, sharpened against the concrete floor—and held it in a plastic spoon, in which she dipped her “pen,” often a thin bamboo strip or a straw stem. Her writing was done on paper when it was available and on shirts and torn-up bed sheets when it was not.12

At a certain point, having poked the fingers on her left hand so many times, she could no longer draw blood from them. They turned numb when pressed.13 In a letter to her mother dated November 14, 1967, she wrote:

The small puddle of blood that I squeezed out for writing is almost all gone now. My blood seems to have thinned lately; coagulation is quite poor. It may be partially due to the weather getting cold. Alas, dear Mama! This is my life! It is also my struggle! It is my battle!14

The fullest expression of Lin Zhao’s political beliefs is found in her 1965 letter to the editorial board of People’s Daily. She chose July 14, the anniversary of the storming of the Bastille, as the day to begin writing it. It took her almost five months to complete the letter, which ran to about 140,000 characters, 137 pages in all. She did it in ink, but stamped it repeatedly with a shirt-button-sized seal bearing the character zhao and inked with her blood.

In the letter, Lin Zhao challenged the theory of a continuous “class struggle,” which the Communists saw as intrinsic to human history and from which there was no escape. Since the 1920s, the CCP had looked upon this theory as an immutable truth and had used it to justify the so-called dictatorship of the proletariat after 1949. The doctrine gained new urgency in the 1960s when Mao declared that “class struggle must be talked about every year, every month, and every day.”15

Lin Zhao scoffed at this. “I do not ever believe that, in such a vast living space that God has prepared for us, there is any need for humanity to engage in a life-and-death struggle!”16

The CCP dictatorship was but a modern form of “tyranny and slavery,” she wrote in her letter to the party’s propagandists. “As long as there are people who are still enslaved, not only are the enslaved not free, those who enslave others are likewise not free!” Those seeking to end Communist rule in China must likewise not “debase the goal of our struggle into a desire to become a different kind of slave owner,” she wrote. “The lofty overall goal of our battle dictates that we cannot simply set our eyes on political power—the goal must not and cannot be a simple transfer of political power!” The end was “political democratization… to make sure that there will never be another emperor in China!”17

Lin Zhao wrestled with the moral question of whether violence was a justified means to that end. Her Christian faith had hardened her for the fight. At the same time, it also tempered her opposition. She acknowledged the occasional “sparks of humanity” even in those who were at the “most savage center” of Chinese communism. As strenuously as she argued against her imprisonment, against Mao’s dictatorship, and for a free society, she was unable to sanction violence in that struggle. “As a Christian, one devoted to freedom and fighting under the Cross, I believe that killing Communists is not the best way to oppose or eliminate communism.” She admitted that, had she not “embraced a bit of Christ’s spirit,” she would have had every reason to pledge “bloody revenge against the Chinese Communist Party.”18

FOR HER REFUSAL to submit to “thought reform” and her unflagging sacrilege against Mao and his revolution, Lin Zhao’s sentence was changed to the death penalty. On April 29, 1968, she was shot under the orders issued by the Shanghai Military Control Committee of the People’s Liberation Army. She was thirty-six.

Lin Zhao died with unfulfilled wishes: having caused her mother much grief because of her involvement in politics, she had wanted to make amends by caring for her in her old age. She told her mother in one of her last blood letters, written in November 1967: “When the morning light of freedom in a century of human rights shines upon the vast land of this country, we shall pour out our hearts to each other!”19 That letter, and her other blood writings, were confiscated by the prison and never sent.

She had vowed to make a pilgrimage one day to the tomb of American president John F. Kennedy to pay her respects, for he had taught her—in his “Ich bin ein Berliner” speech of 1963—that freedom is indivisible and that “when one man is enslaved, all are not free.”20

And she had written an appeal to the United Nations in 1966 asking to testify in person about her torture and about human rights abuses in China. In the event of her death while in detention, she asked the United Nations to “conduct a detailed, rigorous, and true investigation” of her case and make it public. Similar appeals from dissidents in the Soviet Union made it to the United Nations Committee for Human Rights during the 1960s, yet Lin Zhao’s letter never reached beyond her prison walls.21

Her death sentence began with a “supreme instruction” from Chairman Mao: “There certainly will be those who refuse to change till they die. They are willing to go see God carrying their granite heads on their shoulders. That will be of little consequence.”22

That would be true, and this book would not have been possible, if her prison writings had not survived.

Lin Zhao had believed—against all hope—that they would. Unimaginably, they did. In spite of the “extremely reactionary” and damning nature of her writings, no prison or public security bureaucrat apparently dared to risk a potentially costly political mistake by ordering their destruction. Instead, her writings were collected and filed away as part of the criminal evidence in her counterrevolutionary case. In 1981, Shanghai High People’s Court posthumously revoked Lin Zhao’s death sentence and declared her innocent. Her writings were returned to the family the next year.23

In 2004, a digitized version of Lin Zhao’s 1965 letter to People’s Daily appeared on the Internet. It quickly became a Promethean fire to political dissent in China today. The late Nobel Peace laureate Liu Xiaobo called Lin Zhao “the only voice of freedom left for contemporary China.”24

During the past decade, an increasing number of democracy activists in China have visited Lin Zhao’s tomb on Lingyan Hill on the outskirts of Suzhou to pay their respects. In recent years, as the government’s crackdown on dissidents has intensified, plainclothes as well as uniformed police in riot gear have shown up dutifully on the anniversary of her execution to block access to her tomb and break up gatherings of human rights advocates who traveled from across the country to commemorate her. The result has been an annual ritual of police detaining and roughing up pilgrims at the foot of Lingyan Hill.25

Throughout contemporary China, no other spirit of the dead has required such unrelenting exorcism.26 In death even more so than in life, Lin Zhao has become a nemesis of the Communist state.

To the poet Shen Zeyi, Lin Zhao’s friend and classmate at Peking University, she was the “Lamplight in the Snowy Fields,” the title of a poem he penned in 1979 when he emerged from his own banishment, only to learn about her death:

For some reason

I always miss the lamplight on the other side of the mountain.

On a desolate night filled with a cold fog

in the middle of the fields covered with white snow

it shone a beautiful, lonely, inviolable light.

Where its radiance touched

it cast as far off as it could

the thick, dark night

of windswept, deep snow.27

That lamplight bore witness to human dignity and the tenacity of the human will to be free. In the course of the twentieth century, the giant wheel of totalitarian systems rolled over the lives of untold tens of millions worldwide. Like Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Sophie Scholl during the Nazi era, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn under the Soviet regime, and Jerzy Popiełuszko in Communist Poland, Lin Zhao attempted—to borrow Bonhoeffer’s words—to “drive a spoke into the wheel itself.”

Religious faith played a role in the heroic struggles of these individuals. It gave Bonhoeffer the moral clarity to pronounce the Nazi doctrine a heresy, and it inspired Solzhenitsyn to oppose communism as a “spiritual enslavement.” To Solzhenitsyn, the immoral totalitarianism of the Soviet Union had demanded a “total surrender of our souls.” When Caesar demands “that we render unto him what is God’s—that is a sacrifice we dare not make!” he concluded.28

In the early 1980s, Father Jerzy Popiełuszko stood with Solidarity, the Polish trade union, in defying the martial law the Communist government in Poland had imposed. “Woe betide state authorities who want to govern citizens by threat and fear,” he cried. He believed that “to serve God is to condemn evil in all its manifestations”—and he paid for that conviction with his life.29

The connection between religious faith and the extraordinary courage of individuals to resist totalitarianism had been foretold by German theologian and philosopher Ernst Troeltsch, whom Bonhoeffer had read as a student. Because of its own revolutionary principle of “unlimited individualism and universalism,” wrote Troeltsch, Christianity has “a disintegrating effect” upon “every form of exclusively earthly authority.”30

IN 2013, The Collected Writings of Lin Zhao—including her returned prison writings and other extant works and correspondence, compiled and annotated by her dedicated friends—was privately printed.31 I was given a copy.

It was a godsend. A year earlier, I had embarked on my search for Lin Zhao’s story. Since 2012 I have retraced her life’s journey, from the former Laura Haygood Memorial School in Suzhou where she underwent a double conversion—to Christianity and then to communism—to the picturesque campus of Peking University where she broke with communism after a political awakening. To better understand the mission school’s education that left a permanent mark on her mind, I turned to the United Methodist archives in Madison, New Jersey.

I also paid my respects to Lin Zhao at her tomb, above which a surveillance camera was installed in 2008, in the lead-up to the fortieth anniversary of her execution, lest a spiritual and political plague break out undetected from her tomb.32

I have come to know Lin Zhao not only through her writings but also through interviews and correspondence with those who knew her intimately—her former fiancé, classmates, friends, fellow counterrevolutionaries, and her sister—and those who knew her prison intimately, namely Tilanqiao’s former political inmates.

In my exclusive interview with the now retired judge who reviewed Lin Zhao’s case in 1981 for rehabilitation, I asked about his decision to return her prison writings—sheets of manuscripts, numbered and bound with green threads, and four journal notebooks that contain her “battlefield diaries,” essays, and ink copies of her “blood letters home.” Using a pen, she had meticulously copied onto notebooks and loose sheets of paper all her blood writings after they were handed to the guards so that her words would be preserved.33

The returned writings were from her secondary file, he told me. The primary file contains her interrogation records and other key materials, which total about three linear feet on a shelf. It remains to this day locked away at a secret location for classified documents outside Shanghai.

“She is a good poet,” he reminisced. “I secretly took some of her poems home and hand copied them,” he added with a mischievous smile.

“Did you see the blood writings?”

He did. Only some of them. The blood had turned dark on pieces of yellowed paper.

I asked why he didn’t return them to Lin Zhao’s family along with the other prison writings.

Taichu shenjing le”—too much for the raw nerves—he answered.34

LIN ZHAO WOULD have been consigned to oblivion, like the millions killed as enemies of the revolution. Her story would have been lost but for the constancy of her prison writings and the caprices of history. What follows is that story.



LIN ZHAO FOUND OUT FROM HER PARENTS THAT POLITICS IN TWENTIETH-CENTURY China was a treacherous business. In the late 1920s, her mother, Xu Xianmin, at the time a student at Leyi Middle School in Suzhou, joined her radical brother Xu Jinyuan as agitators in the city’s labor movement led by the local branch of the nascent Chinese Communist Party. Xu Xianmin later recalled the moment when she came on the scene as a fifteen-year-old revolutionary neophyte. During a strike by Suzhou’s rickshaw pullers, she “wove in and out of the crowd of demonstrators on the street, running around like a lunatic,” dressed in red with megaphone in hand. “I did not really know what revolution was all about. I just followed Big Brother Jinyuan, waving a flag and shouting, but that got me the nickname ‘the lady in red.’”1

The woman in red soon came to know what a heavy price a revolution could exact. In the wee hours of April 11, 1927, the Nationalist (Guomindang) police burst into the house where Xu Jinyuan and a few regional CCP leaders were holding an emergency meeting and arrested them. The next day, Chiang Kai-shek launched his brutal purge of the Communists in Shanghai. Hundreds of activists in Shanghai’s General Labor Union, the CCP stronghold in the city, were killed. As the campaign continued, thousands went missing. The April 12 Incident marked the end of the brief Nationalist-CCP alliance against the warlords. Thereafter the Communists were hunted down, and the bloody struggle between the two parties would continue for over two decades. A few days after his arrest, Xu Jinyuan’s murdered body was put into a hemp sack and dumped into the river. He was twenty-one.2

The manner of her brother’s death apparently dampened Xu Xianmin’s heroism. She soon distanced herself from the CCP and aligned instead with a reformist faction within the Guomindang, serving as secretary of its local county branch. But her political loyalties remained divided: to a large extent, her sympathies remained with the revolutionaries.3

LIN ZHAO, NÉE Peng Lingzhao, was born on January 23, 1932.4 She abandoned her birth name in her late teens when she joined the Communist revolution. The adoption of Lin as her new surname, no small sin against filial piety, marked a symbolic break with the Peng family: Peng Guoyan, her father, had not embraced the revolution in his youth. In 1922, he had been admitted to Southeast University in Nanjing, one of the first national universities established after the fall of the Qing dynasty in 1912. He majored in political economy, part of the university’s Western-style curriculum, which was designed to advance the modernizers’ nationalist dreams of wealth and power for the country. Those were dreams from the late nineteenth century. Battered by the failed reforms of the 1890s, the disaster of the Boxer Uprising at the turn of the century, and the country’s descent into warlordism after 1916, the dreams nevertheless remained buoyant.

In 1926, Peng Guoyan graduated from Southeast University. Unlike his fiery future wife, he envisioned the introduction of constitutional politics and efficient, accountable government—what writer and family friend Feng Yingzi called his “Westminster-style democratic ideas”—to China. His bachelor’s thesis was entitled “On the Constitution of the Irish Free State.”5

By 1928, a time of fresh beginnings for China appeared to have arrived. Major warlords either had been defeated or had pledged allegiance to the newly established National government in Nanjing; the radicalism of communism had been contained. National rejuvenation seemed possible under the new Nanjing government, which began a vigorous push to end almost a century of unequal treaties that had been forced on China since the Opium War of 1839–1842. Successful negotiations with Western powers soon led to reclaimed tariff autonomy.6

Meanwhile, the Nanjing government sought to introduce reforms in the economy, industry, education, and the army, as well as in government administration and the tax system. In Jiangsu province, examinations were held in September 1928 to select chief executives at the county level, ostensibly a break with the corrupt officialdom of the past. The twenty-four-year-old Peng scored highest in the test and became the magistrate of Wu county, which included the city of Suzhou and the neighboring areas.

Peng’s glory was short-lived. Unwilling and unable to play by the intricate rules of local politics, he neither bribed his provincial superior nor appeased the power brokers in areas nominally under his administrative control. He initiated road construction projects and the installation of telephone lines; he also cracked down on gambling and opium dens, to the ire of local police, who earned protection money from murky establishments.

Magistrate Peng apparently also harbored sympathies for Communists and leaked to Xu Xianmin, his future wife, a secret provincial order for the arrest of Suzhou leftists. Within months, he was briefly detained on vague charges of insubordination and indiscretion and removed from office.7

In 1930, he and Xu Xianmin were married. By the time of Lin Zhao’s birth in 1932, he was in his third short-lived administrative stint, now as the magistrate of the remote, impoverished county of Pi. In May, after only six months on the job, the scrupulous and hardworking Peng was again arrested on trumped-up charges of “wanton taxation” to profit himself. He had tried to stay above factional politics but ended up running afoul of a local strongman. He spent the next three years in jail. The wings of the would-be modernizer had again been clipped. As if this was not enough, the strongman commissioned a stone stele at taxpayers’ expense to commemorate the “inferior administrative deeds” of Peng. One could hardly have suffered a more resounding defeat.8

LIN ZHAO WAS five when Japan’s full-scale invasion of China began. The hostilities, which broke out in July 1937 near Beijing (called Beiping at the time), spread to the Shanghai area in August. Shanghai fell in November, and Suzhou, eighty kilometers west, quickly followed. In December, the Japanese took Nanjing, the then capital of the Republic of China, and unleashed six weeks of horror—the Rape of Nanking, in which some three hundred thousand Chinese were massacred.

As the Japanese army advanced, Lin Zhao’s family joined the estimated fifty million refugees who fled coastal China and headed west. In wartime capital Chongqing, Peng Guoyan worked for the Ministry of Finance of the Nationalist government. Xu Xianmin decided to return to occupied Shanghai and Suzhou as an undercover agent for the resistance movement—a Nationalist “commissioner” for Shanghai’s surrounding countryside. At one point, she was briefly detained and tortured by the Japanese gendarmes.9

From a young age, Lin Zhao found in her mother an example of courage and sacrifice. Many years later, she reflected in a prison poem that it was her uncle Xu Jinyuan who had taught her mother to fight and her mother who passed on to her the same fighting spirit.10

After the end of the Japanese occupation, Peng Guoyan returned to the lower Yangzi valley and secured a position at the government’s Central Bank in Shanghai. For her part, Xu Xianmin emerged as a progressive socialite in Suzhou. Back in the early 1930s, she had cofounded the Suzhou Women’s Association to mobilize public opinion against Japan’s takeover of Manchuria. After the war, her activist credentials and connections propelled her into prominent roles in respectable Suzhou society. She served on the board of trustees of a local bank, assumed directorship of Dahua Daily, a Suzhou newspaper, cofounded a transportation company, and successfully ran for the National Assembly in 1946 as a representative from Suzhou.11


  • "Blood Letters is one of the most important books on the Communist-era rights movements to be published in recent years. It is not only the first biography of Lin in English, but also the first in any language to carefully sort through the sometimes overwrought and polemical writing inspired by her martyrdom... highly readable, deeply informed..."—New York Review of Books
  • "[Lin Zhao's] story is grippingly related... her fate was inevitable: death by a firing squad. But thanks to scholar Lian Xi, her words survive."—Washington Times
  • "Blood Letters is an unsparing, meticulously researched, moving but unsentimental look at a complex and heroic figure. Without shying away from the realities of Lin Zhao's personal flaws and inner torment, Lian Xi's work also recognizes her important legacy, making it widely accessible for the first time to an English-speaking audience... an important-even vital-book."—Christianity Today
  • "A moving account of astonishing human courage in the leering face of human cruelty."—Kirkus Reviews
  • This book deeply moved me: it is the story of the most harrowing and heroic martyrdom in the history of faith in modern China. Lian Xi's work of witness is groundbreaking.—Liao Yiwu, exiled writer and author of God Is Red, The Corpse Walker, and For a Song and a Hundred Songs
  • "China's achievements and failures are usually celebrated or condemned on the mass scale. The vivid individuality of the men and women who have fought bravely to change their nation can fade from view. Blood Letters is the most powerful antidote to that amnesia. Lin Zhao's story, nearly erased or forgotten, will live as an example of civic and personal courage to inspire people in her country and elsewhere."—James Fallows, Atlantic
  • "A few courageous Chinese dissidents--Wei Jingsheng, Liu Binyan, Fang Lizhi, Liu Xiaobo, and others--have become known to the world. Their actions and their stories were able to emerge once Mao Zedong was gone. Others, who fought back while Mao was still alive, received bullets in the back of the head and immaculate erasure of their stories. They included Lin Zhao, Yu Luoke, Zhang Zhixin, and uncountable others whose names we do not know. Blood Letters, the rescued story of Lin Zhao, shows us an indomitable woman who was both a martyr and true pioneer."—Perry Link, author of Liu Xiaobo's Empty Chair: Chronicling the Reform Movement Beijing Fears Most
  • "Lin Zhao is a great hero of the faith, a brilliant and courageous figure no less than Bonhoeffer and Solzhenitsyn, willing to give her life for the truth of God. May a thousand flowers like Lin Zhao bloom in the China of today!"—Eric Metaxas, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Bonhoeffer, If You Can Keep It, and Martin Luther
  • "Blood Letters tells the story of Lin Zhao's martyrdom with the elegance her life demands.... Lian Xi's book will surely become a classic not only as we come to understand the struggle of Christians in China but also for how the story he tells helps us understand China." —Stanley Hauerwas, Gilbert T. Rowe Professor Emeritus of Divinity and Law at Duke University
  • "Blood Letters is a genuinely exciting book. Lian Xi sheds a whole new light on an extraordinarily important Christian figure (and martyr) who has hitherto been utterly unknown outside a narrow band of specialists.... A masterpiece."—Philip Jenkins, author of Crucible of Faith: The Ancient Revolution That Made Our Modern Religious World
  • "Blood Letters, carefully researched and timely, reveals the trajectory of a privileged girl who went from Christian to communist comrade to a Christian resister whose crime was being an 'impenitent counterrevolutionary.' Even told poorly, this would be a remarkable story. Xi tells it in memorable fashion."—Christian Century

On Sale
Mar 20, 2018
Page Count
352 pages
Basic Books

Lian Xi

About the Author

Lian Xi is a professor of world Christianity at Duke Divinity School. The author of Redeemed by Fire and The Conversion of Missionaries, he lives in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.

Learn more about this author