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Quelling the People: The Military Supression of the Beijing Democracy Movement
     

Quelling the People: The Military Supression of the Beijing Democracy Movement

by Timothy Brook, Brook
 

The Beijing Massacre was a watershed in the history of modern China. In the early hours of June 4, 1989, the People's Liberation Army forced its way into the center of Beijing. Its objective was to take control of Tiananmen Square, headquarters of the fledgling Democracy Movement, at all costs. Even the Chinese leaders may not have realized that the Army would

Overview

The Beijing Massacre was a watershed in the history of modern China. In the early hours of June 4, 1989, the People's Liberation Army forced its way into the center of Beijing. Its objective was to take control of Tiananmen Square, headquarters of the fledgling Democracy Movement, at all costs. Even the Chinese leaders may not have realized that the Army would carry out a massacre that would shred the legitimacy of the government in the eyes of its own people and of the world community.
In Quelling the People, Timothy Brook offers the first detailed and objective reconstruction of the Army's actions during that night, as well as in the weeks leading up to the massacre. Brook goes behind the scenes, interviewing dozens of eyewitnesses, reviewing Chinese and foreign press reports, collecting unofficial hospital reports, and working from over a hundred student documents smuggled out of Beijing University. What he discovers is something very different from the official story. He demonstrates that the soldiers killed two to three thousand people as opposed to the reported hundreds. He finds that the soldiers, armed with combat weapons, were not trained to handle civilian opposition, and had little strategy except to open fire into crowds. In short, they should never have been used as riot troops. Given such poor resources, Brook asserts, the Chinese leaders should have sought a nonmilitary solution, for in deploying their incompetent troops, the government came close to provoking a civil war as the military units who had participated in the massacre squared off against each other. In addition, he looks into the Chinese government's extensive propaganda campaign—from videos edited to show that the Army was in the right, to books with the same storyline, to the celebration on National Day, an attempt to create the illusion of normalcy and unity. As Brook writes, "the Chinese government's sole hope is amnesia....It asks that we succumb to its logic....That what the soldiers did, they did in self-defense....That nothing really happened. That nothing has changed."
Filled with vivid, personal accounts of both participants and observers, Quelling the People not only sets the record straight as to what happened at Tiananmen Square, but it also provides a provocative look into the Chinese mind. It tells the story of the people who stood up to fight for democratic change, the soldiers who were sent against them, and the disregard for human rights that resulted in the tragic deaths of thousands.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Eyewitness reports, hospital records and student documents buttress this authoritative study of the birth, development and sudden death of the 1989 Democracy movement in China. The book's centerpiece is a detailed reconstruction of the Tiananmen Square massacre on June 3 and 4, 1989. Brook explains the catalytic effect of General Secretary Hu Yaobang's death, defines the rationale behind the student hunger strikes and the goverment's imposition of martial law, and describes the styrofoam statue of the Goddess of Democracy as a ``brilliant gesture'' on the students' part. Brook establishes that between two and three thousand citizzens of Beijing were slaughtered by the People's Army, which was acting on orders from the highest civilian authority (i.e., Deng Xiaoping), and that at one point China was on the brink of civil war as army units threatened to turn against one another. Brook has uncovered detailed material revealing how government propagandists attempted to whitewash the bloody events of Tiananmen Square even as the long process of arrests and repression began. Brook is associate professor of history at the University of Toronto. (Sept.)do you happen to have a spare copy of this one, gen? /pre/alas, no. but ifyou'll give Sam Baker a note requesting this--include author, publisher and pub date, as we get closer to the time when finished books are likely to be available, we'll request a copy for you.gs
Library Journal
In 1989, the Tiananmen Square massacre shocked the world. While publications on the event are numerous, most have concentrated on analyzing the political system, evaluating the strategy of the student-led democratic movement, and speculating on the future of China. Brook's book has a more moderate goal, setting out to ``establish a reasonable record of the historical incident'' and to ``chronicle and evaluate the use of violence against civilians.'' With the tight control of official media of the Chinese government and the numerous, often contradictory eyewitness accounts, the author seeks to avoid the deflation of the government's distorted reports as well as the inflation of the activists' emotional accounts. He has worked with newspaper articles, eyewitness memoirs, interviews, and government documents to reconstruct a fairly detailed chronicle of the incident distinguished by the craft and objectivity of a historian. Recommended for academic libraries.-- Mark Meng, St. John's Univ. Lib., Jamaica, N.Y.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780195074574
Publisher:
Oxford University Press, USA
Publication date:
09/24/1992
Pages:
288
Product dimensions:
6.38(w) x 9.56(h) x 1.10(d)

Meet the Author

About the Author:
Timothy Brook is Associate Professor of History at the University of Toronto. He has engaged in historical research and traveled extensively throughout China.

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