Cover image for The Tiananmen papers
The Tiananmen papers
Nathan, Andrew J. (Andrew James)
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : PublicAffairs, [2001]

Physical Description:
xlv, 513 pages : maps ; 25 cm
Reading Level:
1330 Lexile.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
DS779.32 .T537 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



Twenty-nine years ago, the Pentagon Papers provided a vivid, revelatory, sometimes damning look at the operations of the American government during the Vietnam War. Now "The Tiananmen papers" provides a similarly detailed, first-hand look inside China. Maps.

Author Notes

Orville Schell, dean of the Graduate School of Journalism, University of California, Berkeley, is the author of "Mandate of Heaven", "Discos & Democracy", "The China Reader", & twelve other books. His articles have appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Review of Books, & Newsweek, among others. He lives with his wife & children in the San Francisco Bay Area.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 1

Publisher's Weekly Review

Nathan, director of Columbia's East Asian Institute, terms this collection, "the richest record I have ever seen of political life in China at the top." Zhang Liang, a pseudonym, has provided Nathan and Link (a professor of Chinese at Princeton) with a voluminous number of transcripts of original materials, a portion of which appear in this volume (the entire collection of documents will be published in Chinese in the spring). They follow the deliberations and day-to-day conversations of China's most powerful leaders as they try to decide what to do about the increasingly vociferous and, to their minds, dangerous student-led demonstrations taking place in the spring of 1989, not only in Beijing but across the country. The major players here are the Politburo Standing Committee, a handful of officials at the top of the Party; a group of eight termed the "Elders," mostly retired officials of high standing to whom the Committee defers; and most importantly Deng Xiaoping, the now deceased "paramount leader" of China to whom all deferred. It is Deng who makes the final decision to use the military to clear Beijing's Tiananmen Square of demonstrators. We hear discussions in formal meetings, informal conversations, even telephone calls. We are also provided with documents from national and provincial security operations in China, as well as from the foreign press, which the leaders relied on to understand the situation with which they were dealing. The violent end of events was not a foregone conclusionDthere were those who wished to placate the demonstrators, and we listen in on the factional struggle in which they lost out to more intolerant hard-liners. None seem to relish the prospect of violence, but that is what happens, and from this unique revelation of the use of power in ChinaDone of the most significant works of scholarship on China in decadesDwe understand the road to the bloody dnouement of June 4, 1989. (Jan. 15) Forecast: As the importance of its contents deserves, this book, which is being released in a 30,000-copy first printing, is scheduled to receive major media attention: a front-page story in the New York Times and a segment on 60 Minutes (and first serialzation in Foreign Affairs). Still, despite the editors' efforts to make this material readable by adding a narrative context for the documents, it remains dry and dense, and is probably not for the general reader but for those with a deep interest in China or in human rights (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Table of Contents

Zhang LiangAndrew J. NathanOrville Schell
Preface: Reflections on June Fourthp. xi
Introduction: The Documents and Their Significancep. xv
Prologue: 1986-Spring 1989: Seeds of Crisisp. 3
Chapter 1 April 8-23: The Student Movement Beginsp. 19
Chapter 2 April 24-30: The April 26 Editorialp. 56
Chapter 3 May 1-6: Signs of Compromisep. 100
Chapter 4 May 6-16: Hunger Strikep. 121
Chapter 5 May 16-19: The Fall of Zhao Ziyangp. 175
Chapter 6 May 19-22: Martial Lawp. 223
Chapter 7 May 23-25: The Conflict Intensifiesp. 277
Chapter 8 May 26-28: The Elders Choose Jiang Zeminp. 297
Chapter 9 May 29-June 3: Preparing to Clear the Squarep. 318
Chapter 10 June Fourthp. 365
Epilogue: June 1989 and After: Renewed Struggle over China's Futurep. 419
Afterword: Reflections on Authenticationp. 459
Abbreviationsp. 475
Who Was Who: One Hundred Brief Biographiesp. 477
Indexp. 491