‘One of the greatest escape stories I’ve ever read’ Mail on Sunday It was one of the greatest prison breaks of all time, during one of the worst totalitarian tragedies of the 20th Century. Xu Hongci was an ordinary medical student when he was incarcerated under Mao’s regime and forced to spend years of his youth in some of China’s most brutal labour camps. Three times he tried to escape. And three times he failed. But, determined, he eventually broke free, travelling the length of China, across the Gobi desert, and into Mongolia.This is the extraordinary memoir of his unrelenting struggle to retain dignity, integrity and freedom; but also the untold story of what life was like for ordinary people trapped in the chaos of the Cultural Revolution.