Quelling the People by Timothy Brook
The Military Suppression of the Beijing Democracy Movement

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The Beijing Massacre was a watershed in the history of modern China. In the early hours of June 4, 1989, the People's Liberation Army forced its way into the center of Beijing. Its objective was to take control of Tiananmen Square, headquarters of the fledgling Democracy Movement, at all costs. Even the Chinese leaders may not have realized that the Army would carry out a massacre that would shred the legitimacy of the government in the eyes of its own people and of the world community.
In Quelling the People, Timothy Brook offers the first detailed and objective reconstruction of the Army's actions during that night, as well as in the weeks leading up to the massacre. Brook goes behind the scenes, interviewing dozens of eyewitnesses, reviewing Chinese and foreign press reports, collecting unofficial hospital reports, and working from over a hundred student documents smuggled out of Beijing University. What he discovers is something very different from the official story. He demonstrates that the soldiers killed two to three thousand people as opposed to the reported hundreds. He finds that the soldiers, armed with combat weapons, were not trained to handle civilian opposition, and had little strategy except to open fire into crowds. In short, they should never have been used as riot troops. Given such poor resources, Brook asserts, the Chinese leaders should have sought a nonmilitary solution, for in deploying their incompetent troops, the government came close to provoking a civil war as the military units who had participated in the massacre squared off against each other. In addition, he looks into the Chinese government's extensive propaganda campaign--from videos edited to show that the Army was in the right, to books with the same storyline, to the celebration on National Day, an attempt to create the illusion of normalcy and unity. As Brook writes, "the Chinese government's sole hope is amnesia....It asks that we succumb to its logic....That what the soldiers did, they did in self-defense....That nothing really happened. That nothing has changed."
Filled with vivid, personal accounts of both participants and observers, Quelling the People not only sets the record straight as to what happened at Tiananmen Square, but it also provides a provocative look into the Chinese mind. It tells the story of the people who stood up to fight for democratic change, the soldiers who were sent against them, and the disregard for human rights that resulted in the tragic deaths of thousands.

About Timothy Brook

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About the Author: Timothy Brook is Associate Professor of History at the University of Toronto. He has engaged in historical research and traveled extensively throughout China.
Published September 24, 1992 by Oxford University Press. 288 pages
Genres: History, Political & Social Sciences, Travel. Non-fiction

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Publishers Weekly

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Eyewitness reports, hospital records and student documents buttress this authoritative study of the birth, development and sudden death of the 1989 Democracy movement in China. The book's centerpiece

Aug 31 1992 | Read Full Review of Quelling the People: The Mili...

Publishers Weekly

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Brook establishes that between two and three thousand citizzens of Beijing were slaughtered by the People's Army, which was acting on orders from the highest civilian authority (i.e., Deng Xiaoping), and that at one point China was on the brink of civil war as army units threatened to turn agains...

| Read Full Review of Quelling the People: The Mili...

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