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Empress Dowager Cixi: The Concubine Who Launched Modern China

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  • Empress Dowager Cixi: The Concubine Who Launched Modern China 
    Title: Empress Dowager Cixi: The Concubine Who Launched Modern China
    Author: CHANG JUNG
    Format: PAPERBACK
    Publication date: 01/10/2013
    Imprint: JONATHAN CAPE
    Price: $33.00
    Publishing status: Active

    This portrait of controversial figure Empress?Dowager Cixi has been much anticipated –?and fortunately, it doesn’t disappoint. Jung?Chang (Wild Swans) isn’t the kind of author to?skim the surface or go for sensationalism: this?is a thoroughly researched, intricately detailed?story, beginning in the mid-19th century when?a whip-smart 16-year-old is chosen as a?concubine for Emperor Xianfeng. Brought into?favour with the birth of a son, Cixi takes power?in her twenties after her husband’s death. She?helps modernise China, alleviates poverty and?outwits her enemies despite the persistence?of cripplingly sexist laws. A fascinating?account of a strong, commanding woman.

    Empress Dowager Cixi is the most important woman in Chinese history. She ruled China for forty-seven years 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 Emperor Xianfeng's numerous concubines and sexual partners. When Xianfeng died in 1861, their five-year-old son Tongzhi became the next emperor. Cixi at once launched a palace coup, ousted the regents appointed by her husband and made herself the real ruler of China u behind the throne, literally, with a silk screen separating her from her male officials. In this ground-breaking 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, the telegraph, an army and navy with up to date weaponry. She developed foreign trade and diplomacy and established an entirely new education system. Newspapers were published for the first time. It was she who abolished gruesome punishments like 'death by a thousand cuts' and put an end to foot-binding. Jung Chang comprehensively overturns the conventional common view of Cixi as a diehard conservative and cruel despot. Cixi reigned over extraordinary times and had to deal with a host of major national crises: the Taiping and Boxer Rebellions, wars with France and Japan u 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 Beijing's Forbidden City, where she lived surrounded by eunuchs. 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, this biography will revolutionise historical thinking about a crucial period in China's u and the world's u 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.

    ISBN: 9780224087445
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