Beyond the Book: Background information when reading A Free Life

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A Free Life

by Ha Jin

A Free Life
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  • First Published:
    Oct 2007, 624 pages
    Jan 2009, 672 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Lucia Silva

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Beyond the Book

The Tiananmen Square Protests

Beginning in mid-April, 1989, thousands of demonstrators anchored by a core group of dissident university students occupied Beijing's Tiananmen Square. In what has been described as the greatest challenge to the communist state in China since its inception in 1949, tens of thousands soon joined in the peaceful protest, angered by widespread governmental corruption and calling for democratic reform.

In May, demonstrations and marches throughout Beijing exceeded one million participants. Late on June 3, 1989, army tanks moved into the square and began firing indiscriminately into the crowd of unarmed protesters. Estimates of the death toll range from 200 to more than 3000, as the Chinese government never released any official data or a list of the deceased. Many more were injured, and still more went missing, were detained, or imprisoned in the months to come. Tens of thousands of people were arrested in June and July alone. Many ...

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