"How the Party Decided to Shoot Its People:" In this essay for The New York Review of Books, we get exclusive access to a new book of secret documents showing how the Party reacted to the June 4, 1989, Tiananmen Massacre: by forcing everyone to swear fealty to Deng and his decision to send in armed troops.
The book is a rare insight into how the party enforces conformity. It also contains two lucid essays, one by Columbia Professor Andrew Nathan, explaining the documents' relevance and how the party came to this frightful conclusion.
The essay also includes a first peek at the new Li Rui papers donated to Stanford University's Hoover Institution. Li was Mao's personal secretary and later witnessed the army's assault from the western suburbs. In the future scholars will mine these archives for insights into elite politics from the 1950s onwards, but for now I simply took a look at his diary entry for June 4, 1989. He titled it, using English words: "Black week-end."