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Empress Dowager Cixi: The Concubine Who Launched Modern China by Jung Chang at Abbey's Bookshop,

Empress Dowager Cixi: The Concubine Who Launched Modern China

Jung Chang


9780224087445

Jonathan Cape


Biography: historical, political & military;
History;
Asian history;
Modern history to 20th century: c 1700 to c 1900


Paperback

512 pages

$35.00
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Empress Dowager Cixi (1835-1908) is the most important woman in Chinese history. She ruled China for decades and brought a medieval empire into the modern age. At the age of sixteen, in a nationwide selection for royal consorts, Cixi was chosen as one of the emperor's numerous concubines and sexual partners. When he died in 1861, their five-year-old son succeeded to the throne. Cixi at once launched a palace coup against the regents appointed by her husband and made herself the real ruler of China - behind the throne, literally, with a silk screen separating her from her officials who were all male.

In this groundbreaking biography, Jung Chang vividly describes how Cixi fought against monumental obstacles to change China. Under her the ancient country attained virtually all the attributes of a modern state: industries, railways, electricity, telegraph, and an army and navy with up-to-date weaponry. It was she who abolished gruesome punishments like 'death by a thousand cuts' and put an end to foot-binding. She inaugurated women's liberation, and embarked on the path to introduce parliamentary elections to China.  Jung Chang comprehensively overturns the conventional view of Cixi as a diehard conservative and cruel despot. Cixi reigned during extraordinary times and had to deal with a host of major national crises: the Taiping and Boxer Rebellions, wars with France and Japan - and the invasion by eight allied powers including Britain, Germany, Russia and the United States. 

Jung Chang not only records the Empress Dowager's conduct of domestic and foreign affairs, but also takes the reader into the depths of her splendid Summer Palace and the harem of Beijing's Forbidden City, where she lived surrounded by eunuchs - with one of whom she fell in love, with tragic consequences. The world Jung Chang describes here, in fascinating detail, seems almost unbelievable in its extraordinary mixture of the very old and the very new.

Based on newly available, mostly Chinese, historical documents such as court records, official and private correspondence, diaries and eye-witness accounts, this biography will revolutionise historical thinking about a crucial period in China's - and the world's - history.  Packed with drama, fast-paced and gripping, it is both a panoramic depiction of the birth of modern China and an intimate portrait of a woman: as the concubine to a monarch, as the absolute ruler of a third of the world's population, and as a unique stateswoman.

Empress Dowager Cixi: The Concubine Who Launched Modern China by Jung Chang at Abbey's Bookshop 131 York Street, Sydney

By:   Jung Chang
Imprint:   Jonathan Cape
Country of Publication:   United Kingdom
Dimensions:   Height: 234mm,  Width: 153mm,  Spine: 34mm
Weight:   674g
ISBN:   9780224087445
ISBN 10:   0224087444
Pages:   512
Publication Date:   October 2013
Audience:   General/trade ,  ELT Advanced
Format:   Paperback
Publisher's Status:   Active


Jung Chang tells a story and what a colourful tale it is...This is history at its most readable. -- George Walden * Evening Standard * A truly authoritative account of Cixi's rule. Her story is both important and evocative. -- Orville Schell * New York Times * Filled with new revelations, it's a gripping and surprising story of an extraordinary woman in power. Using Chinese sources, totally untapped by western books, this reappraises one of the great monstresses of modern history... Jung Chang's revisionism means that this book reveals a new and different woman: ambitious, sometimes murderous, but pragmatic and unique. All of this adds up to make Empress Dowager Cixi a powerful read. -- Simon Sebag Montefiore * BBC History Magazine * If there is one woman who mattered in the history of modern China, it is the empress dowager Cixi...[Her] conventional image is queried in this detailed and beautifully narrated biography, which at long last restores the empress dowager to her rightful place. Chang's book relies heavily on the vast holdings in the imperial archives in Beijing... She has a wonderful eye for the telling detail and excels at unravelling palace intrigues and corridor politics. -- Frank Dikotter * Sunday Times * Chang has a proven Midas touch... Empress Dowager, by returning to female experience in the style of Wild Swans yet focusing, like Mao, on a controversial ruler, should appeal to fans of both. -- Jeffrey Wasserstrom * Financial Times *


  • Short-listed for James Tait Black Award for Biography 2014 (UK)
  • Short-listed for James Tait Black Memorial Book Prize: Biography 2014
  • Shortlisted for James Tait Black Memorial Book Prize: Biography 2014.
  • Shortlisted for James Tait Black Memorial Book Prizes: Biography 2014.
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