Betraying Big Brother named one of Vanity Fair’s top eight political books of fall 2018,

one of Newsweek’s 61 best books of 2018,

one of Bitch Media’s 15 best nonfiction books of fall 2018,

one of 14 “must-read" foreign policy books of 2018 by Foreign Policy Interrupted

one of the 50 best feminist books of 2018 by Autostraddle

one of Time Out Shanghai’s eight books on “essential International Women’s Day reading list” March 2019

Betraying Big Brother “argues that misogyny is at the core of China’s authoritarian regime and that a feminist movement, if not suppressed, could prove to be the country’s ‘most transformative movement.’ ” - New York Times

“Argues persuasively that the activism the [feminist] five awakened is already challenging the authoritarian state, with more and more women taking control of their bodies and rejecting ‘China’s patriarchal institutions’. ” - Washington Post

“With a dearth of information about non-Western feminist responses to sexual assaults…Hong Fincher has filled an important gap and showed how a generation of Chinese women is making great strides” - Foreign Policy 

“A fascinating and earnest book…riveting…revealing” - Publishers Weekly

“Author Leta Hong Fincher shows why the world should pay attention to China’s feminists” - TIME Magazine

Betraying Big Brother “captures the irony of having an international day dedicated to women’s rights when governments across the world work are stifling those rights” - Buzzfeed

On the eve of International Women’s Day in 2015, the Chinese government arrested five feminist activists and jailed them for 37 days. The Feminist Five became a global cause célèbre, with Hillary Clinton speaking out on their behalf, and activists inundating social media with #FreetheFive messages. But the Feminist Five are only symbols of a much larger feminist movement of university students, civil rights lawyers, labor activists, performance artists and online warriors that is prompting an unprecedented awakening among China’s urban, educated women. In Betraying Big Brother, journalist and scholar Leta Hong Fincher argues that the popular, broad-based movement poses a unique challenge to China’s authoritarian regime today.

Through interviews with the Feminist Five and other leading Chinese activists, Hong Fincher illuminates both the difficulties they face and their “joy of betraying Big Brother,” as one of the Feminist Five wrote of the defiance she felt during her detention. Tracing the rise of a new feminist consciousness now finding expression through the #MeToo movement, and describing how the Chinese government has suppressed the history of its own feminist struggles, Betraying Big Brother is a story of how the movement against patriarchy could reconfigure China and the world.


A vital and necessary book in a world hostile to women and girls. Leta Hong Fincher’s account of a powerful network of activists is a foundational text on feminism in contemporary China, rich with scholarship and a grasp of history. It is a book to inspire and to guide all of us who insist on fighting the patriarchy globally.
— Mona Eltahawy, author of Headscarves and Hymens: Why the Middle East Needs a Sexual Revolution
A provocative, sharp-edged account of Beijing’s push to cajole women to marry and fix the country’s sagging birth rates. A must-read for students of feminism.

— Mei Fong, author of One Child: The Story of China’s Most Radical Experiment
Writing with rigor, passion, and indignation, Hong Fincher introduces a group of Chinese feminist activists who refuse to be intimidated by China’s powerful patriarchal state. Offering a detailed account of the women’s critiques of increasing gender inequality in China, Betraying Big Brother is a singular account of a Chinese—and now global—movement that will not be silenced
— Rebecca E. Karl, author of Mao Zedong and China in the Twentieth Century
In Betraying Big Brother, Leta Hong Fincher unlocks a fundamental truth: the subjugation of women is a key feature of authoritarian power. But in telling the harrowing story of the detention of China’s Feminist Five, she may also have discovered the strongman’s Achilles’ Heel: a broad-based feminist movement poses an existential threat to a patriarchal state.
— Rebecca MacKinnon, author of Consent of the Networked: The Worldwide Struggle for Internet Freedom
In her vivid and comprehensive work on China’s emerging feminist movement, Leta Hong Fincher explores the coming of age of a generation of young activists in an authoritarian state increasingly hostile to social protest. A must-read for all seeking to understand China’s feminist activists, hear their voices, and experience the day-to-day reality of their lives.
— Carl Minzer, author of End of an Era: How China’s Authoritarian Revival Is Undermining Its Rise
Photo by: Nora Tejada

Photo by: Nora Tejada

Leta has written for the New York Times, Washington Post, The Guardian, Dissent Magazine, Ms. Magazine, BBC, CNN and others. She won the Society of Professional Journalists Sigma Delta Chi award for her China reporting. Fluent in Mandarin, Leta is the first American to receive a Ph.D. from Tsinghua University's Department of Sociology in Beijing and is currently an Adjunct Assistant Professor at Columbia University. She has a master's degree from Stanford University and a bachelor's degree with high honors from Harvard University. Leta’s latest book, Betraying Big Brother: The Feminist Awakening in China (Verso), was named one of the best books of 2018 by Vanity Fair, Newsweek, Foreign Policy Interrupted, Bitch Media and Autostraddle. Leta's first book, Leftover Women: The Resurgence of Gender Inequality in China (Zed 2014), was named one of the top 5 China books of 2014 by the Asia Society’s ChinaFile, one of the best books in 2014 by Foreign Policy Interrupted and one of the best Asian books of 2014 by Asia House. Leftover Women was named on New Left Review's list of favorite books to read for International Women's Day in 2017 and 2016. In 2018, it was named on the New York Times list of recommended books on China and Time Out Beijing's list of best books on women in modern China. In 2019, it was named on SupChina’s list of “100 China books you have to read.”  Named by the Telegraph as an "awesome woman to follow on Twitter," you may follow her @LetaHong.