The People's Republic of Amnesia: Tiananmen Revisited


The People's Republic of Amnesia: Tiananmen Revisited


"In The People's Republic of Amnesia: Tiananmen Revisited, Louisa Lim, formerly a correspondent in Beijing for NPR and the BBC, and currently teaching journalism at the University of Michigan, revisits the 1989 crackdown on the democracy movement in China and traces its effects across a quarter of a century. Even after 25 years, the 'events of 1989' remain a closed subject in China. As Lim reveals, the extent to which the Communist Party has contained any reference to it exceeds even its efforts to deny the violence of the Cultural Revolution or the occupation of Tibet. Amnesia has become the official policy and this, in turn, has kept the country from facing up to its history and thus embracing the political and social change to match the rapid economic progress. As this book shows so compellingly, Tiananmen remains the country's great unhealed wound. The book is based upon profiles of people directly involved with 1989 and whose lives were irrevocably changed by it. They agreed to talk to Lim, despite the risks to their livelihoods and even to their lives. Lim explores how Tiananmen shaped China's national identity, fostering a generation of nationalists who know little and care less about Tiananmen Square. She also uncovers, for the first time, the story of a brutal crackdown in a second Chinese city that until now has been a near-perfect case study in the state's ability to rewrite history by excising the most painful episodes. Ultimately what happened in Tiananmen in the spring of 1989 wasn't limited to Beijing. It was a country-wide movement with world-wide consequences." "The People's Republic of Amnesia enhances the study of China and its history by shedding new light on a story that has remained untold for a quarter of a century. Through her brilliant and courageous investigative work, Lim reveals the irrevocable internal effects the events of 1989 have had on a nation that would rather forget them." "'No, not Tiananmen!' That's my honest and initial reaction to this book as a Chinese reader. I was reluctant to dive into this part of the history and the title 'The People's Republic of Amnesia' stung me. Only after a few weeks, I started to pick it up, it immediately caught my attention and I was drawn into the stories of those individuals whose lives have been impacted by the June 4th Incident. A very somber and objective observation based on the interviews of those people who were involved or witnessed the incident turned into the book's true and sympathetic narrative. The author reveals what has happened with facts and truthful story-telling. It is sharp, thought-provoking and touching. I am ashamed by my own denial, ignorance and apolitical attitude, and feel sorry that this 'amnesia' is a national symptom and a 'strategy' to avoid the pain and sensitivity of the subject." This book has won the 2014 CALA Best Book Award (Categroy: Non-Fiction). This book has won the 2014 CALA Best Book Award (Categroy: Non-Fiction).


Lim, Louisa


Oxford University Press






text; book



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Lim, Louisa, “The People's Republic of Amnesia: Tiananmen Revisited,” CALASYS - CALA Academic Resources & Repository System, accessed April 13, 2024,