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One of the main strengths of this book is that the author was in Beijing during 1989 when the protests were taking place at Tiananmen Square. The first part of the book gives more of a first-hand perspective and the second half of the book gives a more nuanced analytical approach drawing on Calhoun's background in Sociology. Two observations struck me: 1) the book illustrates the view that the government and society as a whole took towards the students in Tiananmen Square itself who were spared, in contrast to those in surrounding streets; 2) the protests took place in 1989 while protests were happening in Central and Eastern Europe but it is important to recognize that the students were linking up to reform efforts that dated back to the "May 4th movement" (May 4, 1919). For anyone wanting to better understand these few months in 1989 this is a very good book to start with.
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