Dr. Mirsky managed to dictate his article over the phone. The next morning he returned to Tiananmen. There, the soldiers shot their parents trying to enter the square in search of children who had not returned home. He also said he saw soldiers shoot doctors and nurses who came to the scene to help the injured. (Many Chinese scholars consider the number of people killed in the crackdown and where they died unresolved. Estimates range from hundreds to thousands.)
“Tiananmen Square has become a place of horror,” Dr. Mirsky wrote in an article on the first page of the crackdown day: stone. “
Dr. Mirsky was named International Reporter of the Year at the 1989 British Press Awards for his Tiananmen coverage.
Jonathan Mirsky was born on November 14, 1932, to Alfred E. Mirsky, a prominent biochemist in Manhattan, and Riva Paev Mirsky, a musician and author of children’s books. He studied at Fieldston School in New York and earned a bachelor’s degree in history from Columbia University. He studied Mandarin at the University of Cambridge and moved to Taiwan with his wife Betsy in 1958, where he studied Chinese and Tang history for four years.
Dr. Mirsky’s first marriage ended with a divorce, and in 1963 he married British neurobiologist Lorna Pearson. After earning his PhD, he studied Chinese history at the University of Pennsylvania in 1966 and began teaching at Dartmouth College. At Dartmouth College, he was co-director of the Center for East Asian Languages and Area Studies.
As a professor, Dr. Mirsky actively participated in the anti-Vietnam War protests. He has visited Southeast Asia many times and conducted long interviews with North Vietnamese government officials. He was arrested in 1972 along with other Dartmouth faculty and students for attending meetings and sit-ins and blocking buses carrying drafts.
Dr. Mirsky was unable to obtain a tenure at Dartmouth. So in 1975 he and his wife moved to London, where he eventually became a journalist. In addition to working as an observer’s Chinese correspondent, he has contributed to various publications, including The Independent and Literary Review, for decades.