University of Maryland, College Park
Louisa Lim's book on the long shadow of the Tiananmen protests shines in its deft portraits and probing interviews of those involved. Well-written and easy to read, the book flows smoothly from person to person, offering a wide range of different, on-the-ground views of the protests from those who were there or directly touched by them, now tempered by years of careful consideration. While more a journalistic account than a research book, Lim's contribution to our knowledge of what actually occurred during the protests is still considerable. Obviously a work of significant time and effort, Lim treats her topic and interviewees with respect, and has teased out personal stories and facts which flesh out the events in a way accessible even to those without a background in China Studies. Although she approaches it from many different angles, she still has trouble bringing all sides of the argument to the table, appearing noticeably biased towards the protesters rather than the protested. Despite this bias, she makes a strong case for the constant and worrying theme of rewritten history in the Republic of China. This major theme is flirted with rather than explicitly outlined, but that does not diminish the persuasiveness of her argument or the breadth and depth of evidence she has mustered to her cause. This book is therefore a valuable read for those interested in either state control of information or China Studies.