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February 1, 2024

My Rating - 3 out of 5 stars

Publisher - Harper Collins
Genre - Non-Fiction
Publishing year - 2021
Language - English
ISBN - 978-93-5422-535-2
Pages - 183

Tiananmen Square: The Making of a Protest by Vijay Gokhale

Book Review - 

When I initially selected Tiananmen Square by Vijay Gokhale, my knowledge of the incident was limited. While inherently tied to China, the incident's broader implications for geopolitics and the country's historical trajectory were aspects I had yet to encounter in mainstream education. As the narrative unfolded, it became apparent that this period marked a significant chapter when individuals collectively voiced demands for rights and democracy, providing insights into China's journey toward communism.

The Tiananmen Square incident, occurring in 1989, comprised pro-democracy protests led by students and intellectuals in Beijing. The movement, advocating political reform, freedom of speech, and ending government corruption, culminated in a massive gathering at Tiananmen Square. The subsequent government response, declaring martial law and ordering a military crackdown on June 4, 1989, resulted in a violent and tragic confrontation, with casualty estimates ranging from hundreds to thousands.

The book adeptly explores the aftermath, revealing how the Chinese government tightened its grip on political control, restricting freedom of expression and dissent. The incident remains a sensitive and taboo topic in China, with active censorship of discussions or commemorations related to the events of 1989. The long-term consequences have significantly shaped China's political landscape, highlighting the delicate balance between economic growth and political liberalization.

The narrative also scrutinizes the portrayal of these events in Western media, shedding light on the selective presentation of information. It delves into how the Chinese government managed the situation, utilizing international relationships, notably with the USA, for long-term gains under the doctrines of Deng Xiaoping. The revelation of the truth about the Chinese Community Party's (CCP) ideologies came late to the world, resulting in irreversible damage.

Regarding the book, the author, Vijay Gokhale, tried to explore this incident comprehensively. However, his writing needs a captivating narrative to engage a broader audience. While straightforward and informative, the author's style could benefit from more personal accounts or anecdotes to humanize the complex subject matter. 

Despite these limitations, the author's contribution to understanding this issue is commendable, making the book a valuable addition to the literature on modern Chinese chronology. I desire to explore more works on this crucial topic, recognizing its significance in understanding Asian history. But to begin with, this book is doable.

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