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Tiananmen 1989: Our Shattered Hopes - Book Review

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by Marisa Quinn-Haisu (subscribe)
My name is Marisa. I am a fiction writer, a blogger, and a freelance journalist.
Published September 26th 2020
A witness to the Tiananmen Square massacre shares his story
Tiananmen 1989: Our Shattered Hopes
Zhang & Gombeaud & Ameziane. IDW.


Tiananmen 1989: Our Shattered Hopes is a semi-autobiographical graphic novel about the Tiananmen Square Massacre that was written by Lun Zhang and Adrien Gombeaud and illustrated by Ameziane. It is 112 pages long and was published by IDW in June 2020. Our Shattered Hopes is told from the point of view of Zhang, who was a young sociology teacher living in China in 1989, and was in charge of the management and safety of the student protesters in Tiananmen.

Our Shattered Hopes is based off his eyewitness account of the 1989 protests. It is not an autobiography and uses some fiction elements to tell a dramatized version of the events surrounding and leading up to the Tiananmen Square Massacre. Zhang and Gombeaud have written a gripping narrative that sheds light on the political climate in China in 1989 and the Chinese student protest movement who staged a hunger strike and stood up to tanks and rifles to fight for democracy.

Tiananmen 1989: Our Shattered Hopes was a fascinating, sombre, and terrifying glimpse into the political climate that existed in China in 1989. When I first picked up this book, I did not know too much about the Tiananmen Square Massacre. Like many other people, I had seen footage of the massacre on television, and clips of the famous Tank Man bravely facing down a line of tanks. Our Shattered Hopes lists all of the key people who were involved in the protest (as well as some fictional characters who were added to help tell the story) and goes into the history of the Tiananmen Square protest movement and massacre.

It was interesting reading about what life was like in China at the end of the Cultural Revolution, the impact that the death of Hu YaoBang had and the frustration that many students felt after suffering through years of corruption, nepotism and economic failures. The book is told in sepia-toned illustrations and written almost like a stage play or documentary, with Zhang standing centre stage, sharing his experiences and dispelling several of the myths that surround this historic event.

Tiananmen 1989: Our Shattered Hopes was an excellent book that I felt was on the same level as Maus by Art Spiegelman and Barefoot Gen by Keiji Nakazawa. If you have an interest in history or politics, I would definitely recommend picking up this book.
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Why? Tiananmen 1989 Our Shattered Hopes tells the story of the Tiananmen Square Massacre and the events that led up to it from the point of view of a man who witnessed it all.
Cost: $24.99 - $34.99
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