The People's Republic of Amnesia

The People's Republic of Amnesia

Tiananmen Revisited

Book - 2014
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"Despite its emergence from backward isolation into a dynamic world economic power, a quarter-century after the People's Army crushed unarmed protestors--labeled anti-revolutionaries--in Tiananmen Square on June 4, 1989, the defining event of China's modern history remains buried. Memory is dangerous in a country built to function on national amnesia. A single act of public remembrance might expose the frailty of the state's carefully constructed edifice of accepted history, one kept aloft by strict censorship, blatant falsehood, and willful forgetting. Though the consequences of Tiananmen Square are visible everywhere throughout China, what happened there has been consigned to silence. In The People's Republic of Amnesia, NPR's China correspondent Louisa Lim offers an insider's account of this seminal tragedy, revealing the enormous impact it had on China and the reverberations still felt today. Official hypocrisy and the government's obsession with maintaining stability and silence have deepened June 4th's impact on the nation's psyche. Lim interweaves portraits of eight individuals whose lives have been shaped by June 4--including the two women who started Tiananmen Mothers, one of the first and most prominent grassroots organizations outside the Chinese government's control; a student survivor involved in the protests; a soldier who took part in the suppression; and a high-ranking government administrator who played a role in ordering the tanks into the square. In the process she offers a textured, intimate, and haunting look at the national tragedy and an unhealed wound"--
Publisher: New York, NY : Oxford University Press, [2014], c2014
ISBN: 9780199347704
Branch Call Number: 951.058 LIM NVD
Characteristics: x, 248 pages, [16] unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations (some colour), map, plan


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Sep 27, 2014

This is a great exploration of a pivotal event in the history of modern China. Perhaps the pivotal event -- a theory the author certainly delves into.

Expansive research, first-hand accounts and a critical journalistic eye inform this riveting evaluation of the events of June 4th, 1989 and their implications on the present. Replete with new information, the book should be of interest to anyone from the layman to the sinology expert.

Louisa Lim gathers testimony from a number of different perspectives who experienced the June 4th crackdown. These include a Red Army grunt deployed in Beijing to quell the unrest, a disgraced official with close ties to the Chinese politburo in 1989, a mother who lost her son in the crackdown, protesters who escaped the mainland, protestors who suffered in incarceration and others.

The book is at its best when Lim and her subjects show the continuing repercussions of the Tiananmen incident in China today, despite its near total annihilation from the history books of the PRC. Her interview with the official who describes how, after the Tiananmen crackdown, there would be, and continues to be, "little Tiananmens" everyday and everywhere in China to this day goes a long way to explain the corruption that plagues the PRC in all levels of society in 2014.

To sum up, Lim does an excellent job justifying the relevance of continued investigation into this subject as it remains so critical to the state of all things in modern China.

All this and much more! Well-worth reading.

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