Gene Toner, a western businessman, gets involved in a web of intrigue and passion as he tries to help a well known older dissident get his memoir published in the West. The dissident is a former professor of history with connections at the top of the political spectrum. He is accused of instigating the student march on Tiananmen Square in 1989 and is subsequently jailed for his views on democratic reforms. The manuscript narrates historic events in the immediate post-Mao and pre-Tiananmen years and contains highly critical and even defamatory remarks on some top mandarins of the political elite in China. The manuscript is therefore viewed as libellous and treasonous by the accused who want to see it destroyed.
In the process of finding a way to publication, while protecting the dissident and his family, romantic liaisons are born and lives are changed in emotional events of historic proportions.