Thursday 29 May 2014

Published Today: The People's Republic of Amnesia by Louisa Lim

On June 4, 1989, People’s Liberation Army soldiers opened fire on unarmed civilians in Beijing, killing untold hundreds of people.  A quarter-century later, Louisa Lim charts how the events of June 4th changed China, and how China changed the events of June 4th by rewriting its own history.

This book reveals new details about the fateful days in Tiananmen Square including how one of the country’s most senior politicians lost a family member to an army bullet, and uncovers the inside story of the young soldiers sent to clear Tiananmen Square.   Louisa Lim introduces us to the individuals whose lives were transformed by the events of Tiananmen Square. For example, one of the most important government officials in the country became one of its most prominent dissidents post-Tiananmen.

For the first time, Lim exposes the details of a brutal crackdown in a second Chinese city, Chengdu. By tracking down eyewitnesses, discovering US diplomatic cables, and combing through official Chinese records, Lim offers the first accessible, English-language account of a story that has remained mostly untold for twenty-five years.

Louisa Lim began her journalistic career in Hong Kong, and was later appointed as the BBC's Beijing Correspondent. She has reported from China for the past decade, most recently as NPR's Beijing Correspondent. She has made a very rare reporting trip to North Korea, covered illegal abortions in Guangxi province, and worked on a major multimedia series on religion in China, New Believers: A Religious Revolution in China.  

Early praise for The People’s Republic of Amnesia

“A deeply moving book—thoughtful, careful, and courageous. The portraits and stories it contains capture the multi-layered reality of China, as well as reveal the sobering moral compromises the country has made to become an emerging world power, even one hailed as presenting a compelling alternative to Western democracies. Yet grim as these stories and portraits sometimes are, they also provide glimpse of hope, through the tenacity, clarity of conscience, and unflinching zeal of the dissidents, whether in China or in exile, who against all odds yearn for a better tomorrow.”
–Shen Tong, former student activist and author of Almost a Revolution

“Astonishingly Beijing has managed to obliterate the collective memory of Tiananmen Square, but  a quarter-century later Louisa Lim deftly excavates long-buried memories of the 1989 massacre. With a journalist's eye to history, she tracks down key witnesses, everyone from a military photographer at the square to a top official sentenced to seven years in solitary confinement to a mother whose teenaged son was shot to death that night. This book is essential reading for understanding the impact of mass amnesia on China's quest to become the world's next economic superpower.”
–Jan Wong, author of Red China Blues and A Comrade Lost and Found

People's Republic of Amnesia is published in hardback by OUP, priced in local currencies.