This compelling book provides a vivid firsthand account of the student demonstrations and massacre in Tiananmen Square in 1989. Uniquely placed as a Western observer drawn into active participation through Chinese friends in the uprising, Philip J Cunningham offers a remarkable day-by-day account of Beijing students desperately trying to secure the most coveted political real estate in China in the face of ever more daunting government countermoves. Tiananmen Moon takes the reader into the thick of the 1989 protests while also following the parallel response of an unprepared but resourceful Western media. Cunningham recounts rare vignettes about life in Tiananmen Square under student leadership, including a near riot when a reporter is mistaken for Gorbachev, the saga of a tearful leader who quits and dictates her last will and testament to the author, and a dramatic account of futile resistance in the face of an unforgiving crackdown.
He chronicles the opportunistic and awkward tango between naive student activists and jaded foreign journalists, in which, after a month of mutual courting, the tables turn and the now-savvy students watch the journalists, seduced and confused, run circles just trying to keep up. During the hunger strike under the light of a full moon, China bares its conflicted soul to the world, the mournful cry for reform amplified by the footsteps of a million peaceful marchers. This remarkable testament to a searing month that changed China forever serves as a witness to the rise and fall of an uprising, capturing the plaintive and lyrical beauty of a dream that endures and continues to haunt the country today.
Philip J Cunningham is professor of media studies at Doshisha University in Kyoto, Japan.