The man who has done much to give his country meaning to the American reader; here turns to the field of biography in a figure of early 12th century China, Su Tungp poet, painter, connoisseur of wines and women, statesman and reformer and politican -- a sort of Leonardo of ancient China. Extraordinarily enough, he made so great a mark on his contemporaries, that Lin Yutang has had access to some 125 documentary sources, as well as his own voluminous works of verse, prose, letters, etc. Worshipped by his followers, hated by his political enemies, fought by his political equals (particularly the despotic Wang Anshif), beloved of empresses, consulted by emperors, his was a tortuous road to fame. His acid pen frequently got him into trouble, he was repeatedly exiled. But during his moments of power, he instituted reforms, pled the cause of the people in taxes and famine relief, fought bureaucracy. In his moments of ""disgrace"" he enjoyed his family in retirement, his writings, his coterie of admirers. There's a contemporary feel to the portrait-and at the same time, a sense of remoteness in the moral and spiritual values which Lin Yutang is at pains to clarify for today's readers. One could wish there were more contagion of his enthusiasm. Somehow- for me at least- Su Tungpo remained a static figure in a beautiful picture, complete to the last detail.