According to Chinese folklore, when his favourite daughter falls ill, Yanwang, the ruler of the underworld, sends his servants to look for a doctor who has as few ghosts as possible following him. This means that he is a better doctor than others, because when a patient dies, the ghost follows and haunts the doctor.
Li Qunying, a Communist doctor of great dedication, undoubtedly had fewer ghosts behind her. Yet her life was in many ways ill fated, as she struggled through the Anti-Japanese War, the Civil War, the Korean War, the great famine of the early '60s and numerous political movements, including the notorious Cultural Revolution. The Great Leap Forward Movement tragically took away her son Bingbing's life, and the persecution of her husband during the Cultural Revolution took a serious toll on his health, and consequently led to his early death. Besides enduring personal misfortune, she also witnessed the suffering of the peasants, who were the majority of the population at the grass-roots level and whose sorrowful stories have rarely been told.
This haunting memoir traces all of the major events of brutal twentieth-century China, interweaving eyewitness history, folklore, superstition, and Dr. Li's own first-hand accounts.