cover image The Secret Pilgrim

The Secret Pilgrim

John Le Carre, David Cornwell. Alfred A Knopf Inc, $27.5 (335pp) ISBN 978-0-394-58842-1

Fang Lizhi, China's leading dissident intellectual, now in exile in England, lays down a gauntlet to the world's leaders: ``Appeasement of governments which revel in slaughter is an invitation to world-wide catastrophe.'' In this collection of plainspoken articles, fiery speeches, informal travel notes, scientific essays and interviews, the astrophysicist/human rights activist fully lives up to his reputation as ``China's Sakharov.'' Equally conversant with Western traditions and his own, this slightly owlish-looking freethinker strives to put China's problems within a global perspective. His critique of Deng's modernization drive--he stresses that China needs to import a new value system, not just foreign capital and technology--grows ever more timely. Within his own field, cosmologist Fang was branded a criminal for writing about the Big Bang. Here he goes even further, questioning the orthodoxy of Einsteinian space-time. These subtle, brilliant writings convey a powerful message of hope. (Mar.)