CHINA IN OUR TIME by Ross Terrill


The Epic Saga of the People's Republic from the Communist Victory to Tiananmen Square and Beyond
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 A riveting account--part history, part personal memoir, part apologia--of four decades of Communist Chinese rule; by longtime China watcher Terrill. Here, Terrill (Chinese Studies/Harvard) covers some of the same territory that he's described earlier (800,000,000, etc.)--but with the addition of reflections arising from his firsthand coverage of 1989's Tiananmen Square massacre. Terrill's China experiences have coincided several times with notable changes in the West's relationship with that nation--including the author's first visit to China in 1964, and the visits of Australia's Gough Whitlam in 1971 and of Richard Nixon in 1972--and culminate in his return to Beijing on the very day of the Tiananmen Square tragedy. That event has left Terrill, a Christian idealist and former anti- Vietnam War activist, with many regrets over his misjudgment of the nature of repression in China. ``We were so free we could not understand unfreedom,'' he notes. ``I was not open to accept the pathology of Mao's actions.'' Moreover, he is ``discouraged by the entrenchment of the Leninist system, and not sure how soon democracy can root itself in China.'' Terrill believes that the major factors in recent Chinese history have not been the impact of the West, or the Vietnam War, or the quest for the ``New Man,'' but the age-old ways of Chinese culture and the influences of Communist dictatorship and of Mao's personal quest for untrammeled power and the phantom of perfect socialism--a quest, Terrill says, being repeated by Deng in his refusal to relinquish any of the Communist Party's power. Balanced, thoughtful, and impressive for Terrill's candid criticism of his own approach and for his mastery of the telling detail. (Photos--24 pages b&w; maps--not seen.)

Pub Date: June 1st, 1992
ISBN: 0-671-68096-X
Page count: 384pp
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1st, 1992


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