TIANANMEN SQUARE by Scott & Bob Nixon Simmie

TIANANMEN SQUARE

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KIRKUS REVIEW

An enlightening and gripping eyewitness account of this year's political earthquake in China. Scott and Nixon, Canadian journalists, offer not only their physical presence during the events at Tiananmen Square but a good deal more insight and background than the average reporter's grasp of recent Chinese history; in literate, lucid prose they make accessible both to China watchers and to the ordinarily curious the contemporary Chinese scene, its politics, mores, and tensions. The story they tell is not all of one color. The villains are complex, as are the heroes. The government's motives, as well as those of the students, fall into place. The leading characters--from Deng Xiaoping to unknowns--have flesh on them. In this account, the initial impetus for the rebellion is the death of Hu Yaobang, a liberal-minded Party leader and longtime comrade of Deng's who had been relieved of his posts. A hero to the students of nearly equal statute to Chou En Lai, his funeral set off their simmering discontent with the lot of intellectuals in China since the Cultural Revolution. The students saw professors earning less than waiters, scientists polishing shoes, and nothing to look forward to for themselves. Ironically, the loosening of restrictions in recent years against contact with the West also played a part. In efforts to modernize China, students had been permitted to study abroad, hear Western rock singers, taste sexual freedom, capitalist goods, and values--all of which came to represent ""democracy"" to the young and pollution to the Party leaders. How the interplay of these tensions led from a grieved mourning for a hero to disaster is told here with power. Vivid profiles of the leading characters bring to life modern China in a way that the press often fails to do. While by no means the electrifying account that John Reed's classic work on the Russian Revolution was, like it, this book casts clarifying light on what has been, for many, a mystifying culture and a tragic event.

Pub Date: Jan. 19th, 1989
Publisher: Univ. of Washington Press