It's 1983. Scott Savitt, one of the first American exchange students in Beijing, picks up his guitar and begins strumming Blackbird. He's soon surrounded by Chinese students who know every word to every Beatles song he plays. Scott stays on in Beijing, working as a reporter for Asiaweek Magazine. The city's first nightclubs open; rock 'n' roll promises democracy. Promoted to foreign correspondent for the Los Angeles Times then United Press International, Scott finds himself drawn into China's political heart.
Later, at 25 years old, Scott is the youngest accredited foreign correspondent in China with an intimate knowledge of Beijing's backstreets. But as the seven-week occupation of Tiananmen Square ends in bloodshed on June 4, 1989, his greatest asset is his flame-red 500 cc. Honda motorcycle - giving Scott the freedom to witness first-hand what the Chinese government still denies ever took place. After Tiananmen, Scott founds the first independent English-language newspaper in China, Beijing Scene. He knows that it's only a matter of time before the authorities move in, and sure enough, in 2000 he's arrested, flung into solitary confinement and, after a month in jail, deported.
Scott Savitt's memoir turns this complex political-historical subject into an extraordinary adventure story.
This book is riveting nearly the whole way through. I would say a few of the later chapters drag a little bit, but the ending is deeply troubling. I highly recommend it overall.