A fresh perspective mainly for students and specialists.



Street-level view of the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests.

Cunningham (Media Studies/Doshisha Univ., Kyoto), an American-born Asia specialist, was living on campus at Beijing Normal University during the weeks-long popular uprising that ended with the deaths of hundreds of Chinese students and intellectuals on June 4. The historic and bloody event—still the object of a “soul-chilling silence” by Chinese officials—has been much written about in the West, but Cunningham offers the intriguing point of view of a Chinese speaker who both took part in the demonstrations and covered them as a freelance journalist for the BBC. His vivid, highly personal account begins in early May, when he joined Chinese students in orderly sit-ins at the New China News Agency to protest the lack of press freedom. Amid campus rivalries, the uprising grew to include a bicycle demonstration, slogan-shouting in front of the People’s Daily offices and a mid-May hunger strike that gave new urgency to the protest. Cunningham re-creates the headiness of the time and the hopefulness of young Chinese wearing headbands and carrying red flags and hand-painted posters. His many extended conversations with student leaders and others reveal the frequent mistrust among the demonstrators as well as their shared grievances over corruption and class privilege in Chinese society. As the war of nerves between protesters and government officials heated up, Cunningham experienced his own inner turmoil as a Westerner who was highly sympathetic to the uprising but nonetheless viewed with suspicion by many in the crowd. He concludes with an account of the violent government crackdown. The author says the upheaval at Tiananmen accelerated reform, and he remains in awe of the “remarkably peaceful, transformative, and uplifting weeks” that preceded the arrival of troops and tanks. His inside view of these chaotic days offers a deeper understanding of the yearning for freedom that drove youths and workers into the streets of a closed society.

A fresh perspective mainly for students and specialists.

Pub Date: July 1, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-7425-6672-9

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2009

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...


Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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For Howard Zinn, long-time civil rights and anti-war activist, history and ideology have a lot in common. Since he thinks that everything is in someone's interest, the historian—Zinn posits—has to figure out whose interests he or she is defining/defending/reconstructing (hence one of his previous books, The Politics of History). Zinn has no doubts about where he stands in this "people's history": "it is a history disrespectful of governments and respectful of people's movements of resistance." So what we get here, instead of the usual survey of wars, presidents, and institutions, is a survey of the usual rebellions, strikes, and protest movements. Zinn starts out by depicting the arrival of Columbus in North America from the standpoint of the Indians (which amounts to their standpoint as constructed from the observations of the Europeans); and, after easily establishing the cultural disharmony that ensued, he goes on to the importation of slaves into the colonies. Add the laborers and indentured servants that followed, plus women and later immigrants, and you have Zinn's amorphous constituency. To hear Zinn tell it, all anyone did in America at any time was to oppress or be oppressed; and so he obscures as much as his hated mainstream historical foes do—only in Zinn's case there is that absurd presumption that virtually everything that came to pass was the work of ruling-class planning: this amounts to one great indictment for conspiracy. Despite surface similarities, this is not a social history, since we get no sense of the fabric of life. Instead of negating the one-sided histories he detests, Zinn has merely reversed the image; the distortion remains.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1979

ISBN: 0061965588

Page Count: 772

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1979

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