About The Book

In the early hours of June 4, 1989, People’s Liberation Army soldiers opened fire on unarmed civilians in Beijing, killing untold hundreds of people. A quarter- century later, this defining event remains buried in China’s modern history, successfully expunged from collective memory. Those who continue to remember are consigned to a life on the periphery, since moving on— not dwelling on the past—has become a key coping mechanism.


In this remarkable work of investigative history, Louisa Lim shines a light on the events of June 4th, 1989, showing how irrevocably they changed China. Lim reveals new details about those fateful days, introducing readers to a series of individuals whose lives were transformed by Tiananmen, from a young soldier sent to clear the Square to one of the country’s most senior politicians who became one of its highest-profile dissidents after spending seven years in jail post- Tiananmen. She traces the effects of June 4th up to the present day, exploring how it shaped China’s national identity, fostering a generation of young nationalists, who know little and care less about 1989.


Lim also uncovers, for the first time, the story of a brutal crackdown in a second Chinese city that until now has been a near-perfect case study in the state’s ability to rewrite history, excising the most painful episodes. Revealing previously unknown details, she brings to light a wrenching event that for too long has gone unremembered. By tracking down eyewitnesses, deciphering diplomatic cables, and combing through official records, Lim offers a brilliant andclear-eyed account of a story that has remained untold for a quarter of a century.


The People’s Republic of Amnesia is an original, powerfully gripping, and ultimately unforgettable book about a national tragedy and an unhealed wound.

About The Author


Louisa Lim is an award-winning journalist who has reported from China for a decade, most recently for National Public Radio. Previously she was the BBC’s Beijing Correspondent. She lives with her two children in Melbourne, Australia.


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Photo Courtesy of Leila Navidi