There is no question that in order for Tsien to keep his position within the burgeoning missile infrastructure he had to make numerous political compromises, each of which brought subtle but definite changes in the nature of his conscience, outlook, and character.
Herewith is the story of how Tsien slowly evolved from scientist to politician: how the loner and individualist became irreversibly tangled in a web of bureaucracy and conformity. I tell the story in full knowledge that much of it remains in shadow: that some sources can never be revealed in order to protect careers and families in China, that some stories can never be confirmed, and that some questions will forever remain unanswered -- except, perhaps, by Tsien himself.
In 1955, when Tsien and his family returned to China, they moved into a gray Soviet-style apartment complex in a government housing compound off the busy Zhongguan Cun Boulevard in Beijing. Every building in the compound was identical: rectangular, three stories tall, constructed of earthen brick and concrete. The only way to tell them apart was by number. The lanes between