The whole Communist world is in the middle of a democratic revolution. Hall Gardner’s novel depicts the protests taking place prior to the June 1989 Tiananmen Square repression—a subject still taboo in China.
Hired to teach English, Mylex H. Galvin records his experience in his “Anti-Marco Polo” journal after he meets expats from around the world, while trying to come to grips with the Chinese language, history, and politics.
Galvin becomes disillusioned with the poverty and environmental destruction that he finds in China; his barefoot doctor heroes are not capable of treating AIDS; Chinese and African students clash in Nanjing—with no sense of international solidarity.
As the democracy movement heats up, he is torn between the love of Tao Baiqing, a Daoist, and Mo Li, a student of English Lit, and unwittingly betrays the ties between the journalist, Hayford, and the democracy activist, Chia Pao-yu—accused of leaking “top secrets” to Hayford.
As Galvin studies China’s relations with the Western world since Marco Polo, with emphasis on the “hundred years of humiliation,” he becomes haunted by nightmares of a “clash of civilizations” and warns against a coming Apocalyptic Color War between the Balding Eagle and the Chinese Dragon—as the latter transmogrifies from Red into shades of Red-Brown-Black.