- Paperback: 320 pages
- Publisher: Sensys Corp; 1st edition (March 16, 2009)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0982320302
- ISBN-13: 978-0982320303
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.7 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 8 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,378,437 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Standoff at Tiananmen Paperback – March 16, 2009
See the Best Books of the Month
Looking for something great to read? Browse our editors' picks for the best books of the month in fiction, nonfiction, mysteries, children's books, and much more.
Customers who viewed this item also viewed
From the Publisher
In 1989, students in Beijing, China, rose against the tyranny of their own government. In the short span of two months, the spectacular movement evolved from petitioning to loyal opposition and then, in the face of military suppression, to seeking a change in the communist regime. This book is a narrative history of that magnificent time when they experienced joys of mass demonstrations, sorrow of a prolonged hunger strike, disillusionment with their own rank and file, and the deep anger over a massacre. It is a compelling human story that is being told for the first time.
Top customer reviews
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
The book takes the form of a chronicle, stepping through the events almost entirely in the order they happened. The style is very academic. So if you're looking for a rousing story, written almost like a novel, with deep character development and lots of emotion--something like the histories written by Joseph Ellis or David McCullough--you are going to be disappointed. This is mostly a straightforward retelling of events. And yet, I think because of his familiarity with the setting, the times, and life as a student in Beijing, Dr. Cheng brings a depth of understanding to these events that does draw you in, does make you care about the characters, and does keep you reading. This is most definitely NOT one of those dry, academic tomes that you have to force yourself to finish!
I found it especially fascinating to read about the struggles for power, the pursuit of status and control, and the petty and immature infighting that went on between the various student leaders and their respective factions. And yet, if you pay attention to what happens in the U.S. Congress (or any other political body, for that matter), you know that petty and immature infighting is an art form among politicians. The students in Beijing, in the spring of 1989, were amateurs at it when compared to the average elected representative!
Finally, I have to comment on the famous image of the student facing down a column of tanks. Often referred to as the "Hero of Tiananmen Square" I have long thought the real hero of that particular confrontation was the unseen and unknown driver of the lead tank. How easy it would have been for him to just keep going, to roll right over that student, and grind him into the pavement. His superiors certainly wouldn't have punished him for doing that, as they probably did for stopping his tank.
No one can take away from the incredible courage shown by the anonymous student. We should also not forget, however, the courage shown by that driver who made the choice to stop his tank, who almost certainly chose to disobey orders, and who instead chose to respect human life. Too bad that there aren't more people in this world willing to make choices like that more often.
Bottom line: READ THIS BOOK!
The author's choice of the word "standoff" gives a hint of the balanced tension running throughout the book. Students are in conflict with the government. Freedom is at odds with social order. Individuals wrestle with the will of the group. An ancient culture struggles with modernity.
The book is written in a narrative style that describes the events as they unfold. The author steers clear of editorial comment, which makes for a more accessible and honest accounting, and leaves open questions about the main characters' roles. Were the students or the government right or were they wrong? Was the outcome good or bad? The author does not advance answers to these questions, leaving the reader with a strong sense of conflict and struggle. For the American reader looking for a resolution, it is not here - this is a book about China.
If a young man standing in front of a tank is your only image of Tiananmen Square, or if you are looking for insight into today's China, read this book.
And two decades after that shocking news broke out from Beijing, some of us are still puzzled. The echoing sound of "why?" only gets louder and louder, as time passes and with China becoming a rising star amongst world powers.
This book, however, does not tell you why. Instead, it tells the readers "how" one of the most important historical events in the late 20th century happened, in a compelling and panoramic manner.
In this book, history is replayed (using footage captured by cameras at many different locations and angles), but not interpreted. No preachy tones from the author, no complains, no curse and swearing. But the emotion is everywhere. You know that emotion is real because it is from you, the reader. It is your heart responding to this epic, historical event which many people experienced 20 years ago. Now that experience is your own.
With all the dramas, the story was told in a restrained tone. The tragedy was put in the context of a series of democratic movements tracing back to the early time after China first recovered from the Great Cultural Revolution. The author took pains to annotate every important account with references and did not hesitate to point out the conflicting evidence. A list of other resources is included in the bibliography, making the book also a good start to learn more about the truth of the tragedy.