The People's Republic of Amnesia: Tiananmen Revisited (Hardback)
  • The People's Republic of Amnesia: Tiananmen Revisited (Hardback)

The People's Republic of Amnesia: Tiananmen Revisited (Hardback)

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Hardback 264 Pages / Published: 29/05/2014
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On June 4, 1989, People's Liberation Army soldiers opened fire on unarmed civilians in Beijing, killing untold hundreds of people. A quarter-century later, this defining event remains buried in China's modern history, successfully expunged from collective memory. In The People's Republic of Amnesia, NPR and former BBC correspondent Louisa Lim charts how the events of June 4th changed China, and how China changed the events of June 4th by rewriting its own history. Lim reveals new details about those fateful days, including how one of the country's most senior politicians lost a family member to an army bullet, as well as the inside story of the young soldiers sent to clear Tiananmen Square. She also introduces us to individuals whose lives were transformed by the events of Tiananmen Square, such as a founder of the Tiananmen Mothers, whose son was shot by martial law troops; and one of the most important government officials in the country, who post-Tiananmen became one of its most prominent dissidents. And she examines how June 4th shaped China's national identity, fostering a generation of young nationalists, who know little and care less about 1989. For the first time, Lim uncovers the details of a brutal crackdown in a second Chinese city that until now has been a near-perfect case study in the state's ability to rewrite history, excising the most painful episodes. By tracking down eyewitnesses, discovering US diplomatic cables, and combing through official Chinese records, Lim offers the first account of a story that has remained untold for a quarter of a century. The People's Rebulic of Amnesia is an original, powerfully gripping, and ultimately unforgettable book about a national tragedy and an unhealed wound.

Publisher: Oxford University Press Inc
ISBN: 9780199347704
Number of pages: 264
Weight: 570 g
Dimensions: 242 x 161 x 22 mm

Lim's important book offers a chilling vision of an Orwellian society
This reconstruction, by a correspondent for America's National Public Radio, is as important for Western readers as it is for the new Chinese generation that has grown up since 1989 and knows little of what happened. * Economist *
the book is accessible, fluidly written, and offers rich accounts of one of the most complex chapters in contemporary Chinese history. * Jennifer Altehenger, History Today *
[A] persuasive and fascinating read * Andrea Janku, LSE Review of books *
Outstanding... Its great merit is the range of people in China to whom the author has spoken, a hazardous enterprise given the acute sensitivity about the events she seeks to explore. As Lim writes, forgetting has become a survival mechanism. * Jonathan Fenby, Financial Times *
The book features an extraordinary array of witnesses... [it] explores the way violence has been so successfully deleted from public consciousness, and the social political costs of this amnesia. * Julia Lovell, Daily Telegraph *
Lim presents a sequence of sensitive, skilfully drawn portraits of individuals whose lives were changed by 1989... [This book] enhances our sense of the human costs of suppressing the past. * Wall Street Journal *
Lim tells the story elegantly. * David Wolf, Prospect *
A meticulously reported account ... The author offers a series of meticulously (and often daringly) reported portraits. * The Economist *
As well as being a scrupulously researched book, this is an unusually brave one ... [Lim] has done a terrific job. * John Preston, Daily Mail *
Lim offers the first accessible, English-language account of a story that has remained mostly untold for twenty-five years. * Rosie Milne, Asian Books Blog *
For a country that has long so valued its history and so often turned to it as a guide for the future, the Chinese Communist Party's efforts to erase actual history and replace it with distorted narratives warped by nationalism, has created a dangerous vacuum at the center of modern-day China. With her carefully researched and beautifully reported book, Louisa Lim helps not only restore several important missing pieces of Chinese posterity that were part of the demonstrations in 1989, but also reminds us that a country which loses the ability to remember its own past honestly risks becoming rootless and misguided. * Orville Schell, Arthur Ross Director, Center on US-China Relations, Asia Society *
Veteran China correspondent Louisa Lim skillfully weaves the voices that 'clamor against the crime of silence' to recover for our collective memory the most pivotal moment in modern China's history. * Paul French, author of Midnight in Peking *
Louisa Lim peers deep into the conflicted soul of today's China. Twenty-five years after the bloody suppression of pro-democracy demonstrations in Beijing, the government continues to deploy its technologies of forgetting - censorship of the media, falsification of history, and the amnesiac drug of shallow nationalism - to silence those who dare to remember and deter those who want to inquire. But the truth itself does not change; it only finds new ways to come out. Lim gives eloquent voice to the silenced witnesses, and uncovers the hidden nightmares that trouble China's surface calm. * Andrew J. Nathan, coeditor, The Tiananmen Papers *
A deeply moving book-thoughtful, careful, and courageous. The portraits and stories it contains capture the multi-layered reality of China, as well as reveal the sobering moral compromises the country has made to become an emerging world power, even one hailed as presenting a compelling alternative to Western democracies. Yet grim as these stories and portraits sometimes are, they also provide glimpse of hope, through the tenacity, clarity of conscience, and unflinching zeal of the dissidents, whether in China or in exile, who against all odds yearn for a better tomorrow. * Shen Tong, former student activist and author of Almost a Revolution *
Lim's intimate history of the events of 1989 deepens our understanding of what happened, and touches our hearts with its humanity. Where other writers succumb to describing history in impersonal terms, Lim brings the history to our doorsteps, reminding us that we aren't so different from those who lived and shaped history and tragedy. The People's Republic of Amnesia is a wholly original work of history that will alter how China in 1989 is understood, and felt. * Adam Minter, author of Junkyard Planet *
NPR's veteran China correspondent Lim shows how the 1989 massacre of student human rights protesters in Beijing's Tiananmen Square continues to shape the country today ... A forceful reminder that only by dealing with its own past truthfully will China shape a decent future for coming generations. * Kirkus Reviews *

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“The People's Republic of Amnesia”

Louisa Lim’s contribution to the 25th anniversary of China’s Tiananmen Square protests and crackdown is a sobering read. A cultural touchstone which is still remembered every year in the West, the depressing legacy of... More

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