The Legacy of Tiananmen Square
With the loosening of restrictions on the Chinese economy in the 1980s and 1990s and the rise of the middle class, many observers thought that Western-style democracy would soon follow. Instead, China has adopted its own version, with a market-driven economy where actions that might call into question the decisions of the governing party are strictly forbidden.
In this fascinating account, Cormier chronicles numerous failed attempts to bring democracy to China in the last century, starting with a handful of brave souls who tried to move China towards a constitutional monarchy at the turn of the century and peaking with the student uprising of 1989. Using historical research (including surprising transcripts from Party meetings) and candid interviews with many of the dissidents — some now living in exile, others under house arrest in China — Cormier tells the very human story of real people struggling for human rights and freedoms.
The Legacy of Tiananmen Square was originally published in French as Les héritiers de Tiananmen. This updated edition was translated by Jonathan Kaplansky.
"Cormier succeeds in transforming this ambitious project into an easy-to-read précis for a world in growing need of understanding a country with which it has deepening ties. . . . After Cormier gets you to appreciate China's wild and fascinating history, and after he leaves you with the impression that Chinese democracy is a homogenous ambition and not a patronizing vision dreamed up by Westerners, you're left excited — if not a little apprehensive — for what the next period of China's history has in store." — iPolitics
"For a Western audience, still glued to the photo of a man with shopping bags staring down a phalanx of military-green tanks on the day after the Tiananmen Square Massacre, democracy in China has taken on that quality of being an impossible and unreachable dream — something the Chinese just don't get and never will. Michel Cormier's short The Legacy of Tiananmen Square is here to dispel that impression. . . . Cormier succeeds in transforming this ambitious project into an easy-to-read précis for a world in growing need of understanding a country with which it has deepening ties." — iPolitics
"The Legacy of Tiananmen Square is a fascinating recounting of tumultuous political missteps and the devastating human cost of ideological intransigence." — Scene
"Cormier's history is rich and nuanced, showing the conflict of policy, politics, and strategy both within the regime and among its opponents." — Quill & Quire
"In The Legacy of Tiananmen Square, fluidly translated into English by Jonathan Kaplansky, Cormier asks why democratization efforts in China have repeatedly failed. . . . Cormier's central argument — that Tiananmen's legacy was the entrenchment of authoritarianism — is nonetheless persuasive." — Montreal Review of Books
"Michel Cormier's passion for telling the story of the Chinese people is obvious throughout The Legacy of Tiananmen Square. It's an important work of journalism that traces the forces that collided in the centre of Beijing on June 4, 1989, and explains where that collision leaves today's China. Michel Cormier makes it clear that China is still reeling from what took place during those bloody days. The country, as he writes, is still locked in an unfinished battle.' Read this book if you want to understand why the Tiananmen Square crackdown still matters almost 25 years later and why the struggle for democracy continues." — Mark MacKinnon
"Michel Cormier's recounting of China's push for liberal democracy puts the country's more than a century-long struggle in an illuminating historical context, reaching from the reforms of Sun Yat-sen to the emblem of this habitually stalled progression that Tiananmen Square has become, and beyond. Shining a light on the country's dissidents, Cormier manages what only the most effective historians do, which is to constantly remember that politics is never more than the sum of the actions of remarkable people and to show momentous change through the lens that each provides." — Noah Richler
Pub date: April 23, 2013