This study of the Lin Biao incident is in a sense the result of personal struggle and a determination to set the historical record straight. My father, General Wu Faxian, commander-in-chief of the Chinese air force under Marshal Lin Biao, was convicted of assisting Lin Biao in an alleged attempted coup d'état--something I never believed my father had done. I therefore decided to find out what had really happened to Lin Biao on the night of September 12-13, 1971, a night that changed my life forever. For almost ten years, our family heard not a word from my father, who had been secretly arrested two weeks after the fateful night. Then, in 1980 my father was sentenced to seventeen years in prison after being subjected to a "special trial" along with Lin's other major "accomplices." The families of those purged also suffered the consequences. My mother and brother, for example, were kept under house arrest for seven years before they were sent to do forced labor on prison farms for another three years, where they were subjected to all kinds of humiliation. They were guilty simply because they were related to my father. My two younger sisters, only eleven and thirteen years old in 1971, had to struggle to survive on their own, since our parents had disappeared overnight.
What happened to my family, however, was hardly unique during the crazy decade of the Chinese Cultural Revolution (1966-76). I have deep compassion for many people who fell victim to the purges that followed the Lin Biao incident. During those purges, Mao not only removed thousands of senior and junior officials from office; he also had them imprisoned or detained under house arrest. These people, together with their families, experienced personal traumas as great as my family's, if not greater.
My interest in researching the Lin Biao incident became keener after I arrived in the United States to study in 1989, when I realized that I was probably the only person, among the tens of thousands of victims of Mao's purges after the incident, who had both the opportunity and the