Political Adviser Shares Insights on Democracy in Hong Kong, US-Chinese Relations, COVID and More

Ross Terrill, Ph.D., made his first trip to Beijing in 1964 when few Westerners set foot in the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and has since visited China nearly every year. In fact, he is the only Western specialist in China to spend the entire night of June 3-4, 1989—the Tiananmen Square Massacre—and to stay on for weeks as Beijing became a ghost town. 

In his new memoir, Australian Bush to Tiananmen Square (Hamilton, an imprint of Rowman & Littlefield; June 2021; ISBN 978-0761871965; Original Trade Paperback), Ross Terrill, Ph.D., spans the reign of Chairman Mao through his successor, President Deng Xiaoping, and traces how China gradually changed with the times, through the forces of modernization, education and globalization under President Xi Jinping. Moving beyond imperialism to an emphasis on economic development, China has severed its bond with Russia in favor of lucrative trade agreements with the United States. However, China maintains its limited access to foreign business and continues to say NO to democracy, Terrill explains.  

Australian Bush to Tiananmen Square offers intimate details with Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, President George H.W. Bush, PRC Premier Zhou Enlai and more. Throughout, Terrill revisits momentous events, including President Richard Nixon’s groundbreaking visit to China in 1972, and others. First-time revealed anecdotes in the book include: 

• An unheard-of breakfast meeting, arranged by Terrill, between Kissinger and Wilfred Burchett, Australian journalist and Communist, about the Vietnam War;

• A candid talk with Tang Na, Shanghai literary journalist turned restaurateur, about his first marriage to Jiang Qing, actress, ardent revolutionary and the future Madame Mao;

• Searingly honest reflections on the economic and personal toll of the Cultural Revolution from eminent writer, multi-purpose intellectual and “Mao’s poet,” Guo Moruo;

• Cheeky “Nixon-Kissinger” poems found on a factory wall in China; 

• The truth about a famous photo of Mao and military chief Zhu De welcoming Zhou Enlai back from Moscow in 1964 (The original untouched photo is published in Australian Bush to Tiananmen Square.)

• When Mao died, Terrill went on record in The New Republic, predicting the fall of Madame Mao and her leftists; within days, they were arrested.

Terrill can also talk candidly about his take on who is responsible for the coronavirus, the hate crimes festering against Asians in the U.S., the complexities of selling meat, poultry and fish at wet markets, and more. 

About the Author

ROSS TERRILL is an Associate in Research at Harvard’s Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies and the author of 11 books on China, including 800,000,000: The Real ChinaWhite Boned Demon: A Biography of Madame Mao; and most recently, The New Chinese Empire, winner of the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. A native of Australia, he studied history and political science at the University of Melbourne and served in the Australian Army. He went on to earn his Ph.D. in political science from Harvard University, where he later served as an associate professor of political thought, Chinese politics and international affairs. Terrill spent a decade as contributing editor of The Atlantic Monthly, winning the National Magazine Award for Reporting Excellence and the George Polk Memorial Award for Outstanding Magazine Reporting for writings on China. His articles and insights on politics and China have also appeared in The New York Times, Washington Post, Atlantic Monthly, New Republic, Foreign Affairs, National Geographic and other publications. He has been a special correspondent for CBS News and a frequent commentator—often from China—on NPR’s All Things Considered. Recently, he has been visiting professor at the University of Texas at Austin and at Monash University in Australia. He became an American citizen in 1979.

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