By Jung Chang
Empress Dowager Cixi (1835--1908) is an important lady in chinese language historical past. She governed China for many years and taken a medieval empire into the fashionable age.
At the age of 16, in a national choice for royal consorts, Cixi was once selected as one of many emperor's quite a few concubines. whilst he died in 1861, their five-year-old son succeeded to the throne. Cixi without delay introduced a palace coup opposed to the regents appointed through her husband and made herself the genuine ruler of China--behind the throne, actually, with a silk reveal isolating her from her officers who have been all male.
In this groundbreaking biography, Jung Chang vividly describes how Cixi fought opposed to enormous hindrances to alter China. less than her the traditional kingdom attained almost all of the attributes of a contemporary nation: industries, railways, electrical energy, the telegraph and a military and army with updated weaponry. It used to be she who abolished ugly punishments like "death by means of one thousand cuts" and placed an finish to foot-binding. She inaugurated women's liberation and launched into the trail to introduce parliamentary elections to China. Chang comprehensively overturns the normal view of Cixi as a diehard conservative and vicious despot.
Cixi reigned in the course of amazing instances and needed to care for a number of significant nationwide crises: the Taiping and Boxer rebellions, wars with France and Japan--and an invasion via 8 allied powers together with Britain, Germany, Russia and the U.S.. Jung Chang not just documents the Empress Dowager's behavior of family and overseas affairs, but in addition takes the reader into the depths of her superb summer season Palace and the harem of Beijing's Forbidden urban, the place she lived surrounded by way of eunuchs--one of whom she fell in love, with tragic effects. the realm Chang describes the following, in attention-grabbing aspect, turns out nearly unimaginable in its outstanding mix of the very previous and the very new.
Based on newly to be had, quite often chinese language, old records akin to court docket documents, reliable and personal correspondence, diaries and eyewitness money owed, this biography will revolutionize historic puzzling over an important interval in China's--and the world's--history. full of drama, fast-paced and gripping, it's either a breathtaking depiction of the beginning of contemporary China and an intimate portrait of a girl: because the concubine to a monarch, because the absolute ruler of a 3rd of the world's inhabitants, and as a different stateswoman.