A Heart for Freedom: The Remarkable Journey of a Young Dissident   -     By: Chai Ling
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A Heart for Freedom: The Remarkable Journey of a Young Dissident

Tyndale House / 2011 / Hardcover

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Commander-in-chief of protesters during the 1989 Tiananmen Square demonstrations, Chai Ling was one of the Chinese government's most wanted "criminals." Now a successful entrepreneur living in the United States, she has found real freedom in a formerly forbidden faith---and God's purpose for her life in fighting for the rights of young girls in her homeland. 288 pages, hardcover from Tyndale.

Product Information

Format: Hardcover
Number of Pages: 288
Vendor: Tyndale House
Publication Date: 2011
Dimensions: 9.00 X 6.00 (inches)
ISBN: 1414362463
ISBN-13: 9781414362465
Availability: In Stock

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Publisher's Description

The dramatic and fascinating story of Chai Ling, commander-in-chief of the student protesters at Tiananmen Square and witness to the massacre of thousands of Chinese civilians. Risking imprisonment and possible death for her leadership role in the student democracy movement, she was on the run in China for ten months while being hunted by the authorities. She eventually escaped to the U.S., completed her education at Princeton and Harvard, found true love, and became a highly successful entrepreneur. But her desperate quest for freedom, purpose, and peace—which she had sought in turn through academic achievement, romantic love, political activism, and career success—was never satisfied until she had an unexpected encounter with a formerly forbidden faith. Her newfound passion for God led to her life’s greatest mission: Fighting for the lives and rights of young girls in China.


Chai Ling, a prominent student leader at the Tiananmen Square massacre, tells her story in her autobiography, A Heart for Freedom: The Remarkable Journey of a Young Dissident, Her Daring Escape, and Her Quest to Free China’s Daughters. The book takes readers through Chai Ling’s life, the Tiananmen Square massacre, and beyond. In the front of the book, she sets a precedent of hope, quoting Psalm 84:6: “When they walk through the Valley of Weeping, it will become a place of refreshing springs. The autumn rains will clothe it with blessings” (NLT). Chai Ling recounts, as a participant, both the Tiananmen Square massacre and its aftermath. She also describes converting to Christianity and starting her organizations, Jenzabar, Inc. and All Girls Allowed.

The book has seven parts that detail the different phases of Chai Ling’s life. Chai Ling grew up with military parents, two siblings, and her grandmother in Rizhao in the late 1900s. She became a key student leader in the Tiananmen Square massacre while attending Beijing University. After the massacre, she and her husband fled China for the United States. She later divorced and graduated from two Ivy League universities. At Jenzabar, Inc., she met her current husband, Bob Maginn. In addition to leading the students in Tiananmen Square from April to June 1989, she earned a BA in psychology from Beijing University, an MPA in Public Affairs and International Relations from Princeton University, and an MBA from Harvard Business School. She founded Jenzabar, Inc., an online university portal, and All Girls Allowed, which advocates Chinese women’s rights and aims to end China’s one-child policy.

Chai Ling conveys her desire for China’s freedom from communism, as well as her own quest for freedom from unnecessary guilt, especially from the guilt of four forced abortions. The abortions were forced because Chinese women are required to have a birth permit to have a baby. Such permits are not given to unmarried women or women under twenty-five; Chai Ling met neither of those criteria. She also describes her battle with “survivor’s guilt” after the Tiananmen Square massacre. Chai Ling later realized that she and her fellow students had failed “to bring freedom and justice to China” (p. 325) because they had relied on human strength instead of God’s strength. She says, “God used the Tiananmen events to save me and free me. He used everything that happened afterward…so I could see I’m completely helpless unless I trust and rely only on him” (p. 326).

I recommend this book to all who enjoy history, biographies, or both. Chai Ling tells her story well, giving readers a deep, truthful account of her life. Though she did not always know Jesus, Chai Ling now truly lives out Philippians 4:13: “For I can do everything through Christ, who strengthens me” (NLT). – Kelly Helton, www.ChristianBookPreviews.com

Publisher's Weekly

A key leader in the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests, Ling has written a candid and compassionate memoir of her years at Beijing University, her rise to leadership in the student movement, her escape and eventual embrace of Christianity. A gifted writer with a passion for justice, she weaves a tantalizing web of childhood and young adult experiences to describe her misgivings about the Communist Party of China; her awakening, with other students, to the writings of Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr.; and her growing sense of empowerment as a woman. What’s especially remarkable about her story is the lack of bitterness toward many in the Communist regime and especially Deng Xiaoping, China’s leader at the time. This book will be treasured not only by Western China watchers and evangelical Christians who have no doubt embraced Ling as their own, but by anyone interested in how protest movements arise, grow, and work though their internal conflicts. Hers is a tale of human dignity and the imperative to live a life of meaning. (Oct.) Copyright 2011 Reed Business Information.

Product Reviews

4.8 Stars Out Of 5
4.8 out of 5
4.9 out Of 5
(4.9 out of 5)
4.9 out Of 5
(4.9 out of 5)
Meets Expectations:
4.9 out Of 5
(4.9 out of 5)
of customers would recommend this product to a friend.
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  1. VA
    Age: 35-44
    Gender: female
    4 Stars Out Of 5
    A Heart For Freedom
    September 24, 2014
    Amy C
    Age: 35-44
    Gender: female
    Quality: 4
    Value: 4
    Meets Expectations: 4
    A Heart for Freedom is an interesting look at Chai Ling's life. She tells about her life in China and her involvement at Tiananmen Square. I admired the author's bravery of coming forward to tell her story.

    4 stars.
  2. Virginia Beach, VA
    Age: Over 65
    Gender: female
    5 Stars Out Of 5
    Great book on Chinese culture, Tiananmen Sq. & God
    July 26, 2013
    luvs to cook
    Virginia Beach, VA
    Age: Over 65
    Gender: female
    Quality: 5
    Value: 5
    Meets Expectations: 5
    This incredible story opens with 3 small incidents that shatter the dreams of a Chinese family: attempt rape of Chai Ling, her beloved watch stolen by police, and the false accusation of her Mom for stealing 2 microscopes. But Chai Ling was determined to make her family proud by doing well in her university studies and got accepted as a graduate student at the Child Psychology Institute of Beijing Normal University. She married Feng, a student leader, and had to abort several babies because they were too young to get a license to have one. Meanwhile, problems started at Tiananmen Square. In an incredible speech Chai Ling urged the students to join in a hunger strike to get freedom and democracy. The students wanted the government to realize that they loved their nation and were sacrificing their health to ask for freedom. They never expected the government would bring tanks to fire on them. Eventually after hiding for a year, Chai Ling and Feng had to flee China on a boat, for the government had their pictures posted everywhere and their escape was miraculous. Once in America Chai Ling found it difficult to get a job with investment banking firms because they were concerned about the China portion of their business. The biggest miracle came when Chai Ling learned about Jesus and found forgiveness for her forced abortions. You truly have to read this book to understand how long they endured government oppression before fleeing, how God revealed Himself to Chai Ling, how terrible the one baby policy in China is, and the importance of Americans helping to transform China to respect basic human rights and freedom to worship.
  3. upstate NY
    Age: 35-44
    Gender: female
    4 Stars Out Of 5
    July 6, 2013
    upstate NY
    Age: 35-44
    Gender: female
    Quality: 5
    Value: 5
    Meets Expectations: 5
    This is the true story of Chai Ling, who was a leader of the protesters at Tiananmen Square in China. She tells her story from her childhood to the present, focusing on the Tiananmen Square events in 1989.

    I found this to be a good book. The author's story is interesting and I liked the photos as well.
  4. Fairfax, VA
    Age: 45-54
    Gender: female
    5 Stars Out Of 5
    See life in a different culture
    June 26, 2013
    Fairfax, VA
    Age: 45-54
    Gender: female
    Chai Ling's story brings to light not only the events leading up to Tiananmen Square but also the difficulties of growing up in China, where the sacrifice of personal needs for the needs of the whole was always emphasized. I found it fascinating to read about what was going on from her view point about the massacre, although it was difficult to keep track of who was doing what, when. Equally fascinating was to learn of the hardships she faced after Tiananmen Square, not only for herself but also her family and yet then to see how God has used it and redeemed it for His glory.
  5. 5 Stars Out Of 5
    Quietly Compelling
    June 26, 2013
    Quality: 5
    Value: 5
    Meets Expectations: 5
    This book is outside of my usual genre, and I expected to feel like I *had* to make it through the book. This was not the case at all. Ling quietly tells the story of her life. She doesn't do it to victimize herself. She doesn't do it to proclaim her greatness. Instead she quietly brings you through her story which is filled with strong emotions step-by-step. You don't even realize the journey most of the time.

    Sometimes, the story was too much to handle at once and I had to walk away for a time, but I needed to know more, just like she needed to share.

    I have never been familiar with Tienanmen Square. Sure, I knew about it, and that it was awful, but I didn't understand it. This book was really an insightful look into Chinese politics and culture. Something most Americans know precious little about.

    Ling never yells at the reader, though she recounts many conflicts, yet her story is compelling. Many times along the path you ask "why" or "how", and she is upfront in telling you when she doesn't have the answer. But if she can provide an answer she does.

    Her transformation from a bitter, scared, scarred student to a gracious, forgiving, freed woman is a journey of hope and inspiration for everyone. And through her story, we also carry a hope for China.
Displaying items 1-5 of 22
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