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The People's Republic of Amnesia: Tiananmen Revisited by [Lim, Louisa]
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The People's Republic of Amnesia: Tiananmen Revisited Kindle Edition

3.9 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews

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Review

"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

"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

"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

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

Book Description

An Economist Book of the Year, 2014

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 4839 KB
  • Print Length: 281 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; 1 edition (5 May 2014)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00JMCZL56
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #95,264 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
As Tiananmen features in every account of modern China that one reads, including biographies of any statesman at the time, or simple accounts of mdoern history, this reader was already very familiar with the event, and as such was somewhat uncertain about reading a whole book on the subject. However, I was pleasantly surprised at not just the informative nature of the book, but also of the emotionally harrowing accounts.
People's Republic of Amnesia addresses several key issues not included in accounts one reads in modern history books. Amongst these are;
The extent to which the Chinese government has successfully whitewashed Tiananmen from popular memory, along with the weapon of nationalistic education. To such an extent that when one witnesses the flag raising ceremony at Tiananmen, one cannot help but marvel at how a place of national shame has become a place of national pride.
The extent to which Tiananmen mothers have been denied any kind of closure, and how they are subject to monitoring by a constant faceless bureaucracy, and the truly faceless nature of the regime on this matter.
The extent of the division within the leadership. Not just Zhao Ziyang, but also the Commander of the Beijing Military Region General Xu Qinxian, who personally remarked that he would rather be beheaded than go down in history as a murderer, and paid for this with his career and a life spent under supervision.
The truly shoddy nature of how the operation was executed. Not only were most of the soldiers deployed badly trained, and ill informed, but the fact was that initial attempts to deploy them failed. The citizens blockaded them and it seemed as though the implementation of martial law was in standstill, looking almost like a joke at first. However, what followed was no joke.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This book deals with the way the Chinese government has attempted to control the public memory of recent historical events, and in particular the Tiananmen Square massacre. It uses interviews with former soldiers, activists and the relatives of victims. Lim also interviews contemporary Chinese students who, chillingly, are not merely unaware of the events of 1989 but entirely disinterested in politics. Lim also looks at parallel events that took place in Chengdu and elsewhere in China at around the same time as the events as Tiananmen.

This is a short book but one that succeeds in providing a snapshot of modern China and the way that the Chinese Government uses a mixture of fear and incentives to manipulate the public discourse and maintain its position.
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Format: Paperback
Yoyos between intelligent reportage and vapid hack work. Some of the profiles are interesting but when the book sinks to the level of wandering around university campuses showing people the Tank Man picture it's hard to not feel embarrassed for the author. Lim often condescends on her subjects, assuming the worst of them and taking what they say at face value in a country where speaking your mind to a journalist is decidedly unwise. For a writer who has lived in China for decades she is remarkably tone deaf.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Well written with a great understanding of the subject. Insightful and helpful.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
It's lightweight book, short on analysis. The revisiting of the stories of the 1989 activists is OK, if one knew nothing of the background. However it is pretty well all well -known sources raked over. Lim mentions the demonstrations that took place at the same time in several other cities, but she just mentions Chengdu, again available sources, and does nothing about digging into what happened in other cities. One wishes for Frank Dikotter !
( I walked through the mass crowds in Tiananmem Square in 1989, and have been regularly visiting China for some 35 years ).

PS. The Elvis Costello title is picking up on a Lim line about how the Chinese Government have changed the prism, such that old events are seen in another way. 'And the foolish boy looked through a prism, and sees what is, but doesn't see what isn't' .
By coincidence I was reading Amnesia by Peter Carey at the same time. 'He admitted freely that he not only made up quotes, but had also been accused of making up quotes, but never of quotes he had actually made up'
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