While teaching English in Beijing, the author witnessed one of the most tumultuous protests in modern history.

We were young, and maybe a little naive, and we were angry at injustice. Whenever a group of us foreign teachers got together to share a meal or some beers, Chuck, the most cantankerous of our lot, would find an opportunity to say, “America is a toilet that flushes itself with five times more water than any other toilet in the world.” We were disenchanted with the me-first materialism of Reagan/Bush America. We wanted to live conscientiously. China in 1988 was a slumbering giant just beginning to awake. None of us expected our lives there to be easy, or profitable, or flashy like those of other young English teachers in trendier, booming Japan, but we were intrigued by the country’s recent reopening, and up for a challenge.