Zhang studied philosophy in Germany between 1922-1924, and joined the Chinese Communist Party upon becoming a personal friend with Zhu De , his roommate at the time. Zhang left the CCP following the doom of the “August First” military uprising in 1927, and over the years, in collaboration with others, founded the third parties, known today as the Chinese Democratic Party of Peasants and Workers, and the China Democratic League. Before the revolution, Zhang was the dean of a teacher’s college in his home province of Anhui and later an English professor in Zhongshan University .
He was appointed as the vice-Chairman of the 2nd CPPCC, National Committee of the People’s Republic of China 1954–, and . Vocal during the Hundred Flowers Campaign, Zhang was removed by Mao Zedong from his minister's position and staged as a public enemy during the Anti-Rightist Campaign in 1957, being labeled as ‘China’s number one rightist’.
His 10,000-volume family library was destroyed during the Cultural Revolution in the 1960's . His daughter, Zhang Yihe, is a writer with censored History books. Even several years after his death, Chinese communists still criticised him and defended the ’s actions.
With his political ambitions unfulfilled and reform goals unaccomplished, Zhang lived a Renaissance man’s life in his private library of ancient books and art relics after his removal from the many positions he once held. At least until the Cultural Revolution he could retreat to this last sanctuary to reflect back on his journey from an early member of the CCP and a leader in the “August First” military uprising , to a high-impact power broker between the CCP and all third-party political forces , and on to an enthusiast of the New China. He was once offered by the central government to live in exile abroad with state funding, but Zhang rejected the offer, and said “Please convey to Chairman Mao, Zhang Bojun was born on this land, and he will die on this land”, quoted in his daughter’s best seller of 2004, unofficial biographies of friends and associates of Zhang and family. Also quoted in his daughter’s best seller was Zhang’s own personal motto: “I do not judge myself by the honors I hold or by the indignities forced upon me, nor do I judge others by their successes and failures in life.”
Zhang died of stomach cancer and the family believed that depression as a result of his political downfall may have contributed to the deterioration of his health.