ALMOST A REVOLUTION by Shen Tons with Marianne Yen


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An engrossing and deeply poignant memoir by a leader of China's ill-fated 1989 student uprising. Shen straightforwardly narrates the facts of his childhood, recalling the pervasive influence of the Communist regime on his upbringing. He depicts his family (comprised of politically cautious idealists; his father in particular had suffered during Mac's Anti-Rightist Campaign for criticizing the government) as especially warm and loving. Accepted into China's elite Beijing University (""Beida""), Shen matriculated into a milieu of cultural and intellectual ferment. Deng Xiaoping's program of economic liberalization, popular revulsion at such ideological movements as the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution, and the simple desire for a better life had fostered impatience for political reform. First a leader of the official Beida Student Association, Shen then formed the short-lived Committee of Action. Finally, the death of Hu Yaobang, liberal of the Politburo, triggered a period of mass mourning that ultimately became an antigovernment hunger strike and demonstration. Shen became a leader of the movement. Here, he describes the hunger strikes, the attempts to create a dialogue with the government, and, chillingly, the terrible massacre of June 4 and his subsequent escape to the US. Americans knew of the hunger strikes, the mass demonstrations, and the Tiananmen massacre, but they were mostly unaware of the sufferings and yearnings of ordinary Chinese students and workers. Shen admirably fills this gap.

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1990
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin