In this groundbreaking biography, Jung Chang vividly describes how Empress Dowager Cixi – the most important woman in Chinese history – brought a medieval empire into the modern age. Under her, the ancient country attained virtually all the attributes of a modern state and 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 view of Cixi as a diehard conservative and cruel despot andalso 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.
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
Jung Chang, Author of Wild Swans, has done it again with another excellent book on the history of China. Cixi ruled China from behind her Son's Throne from 1861 and throughout history has been wrongly vilified. Based on new evidence, this vivid biography has so many unbelievable twists and turns that will keep you captivated till the very end. If you are interested in China or going for a visit to the Forbidden City, this is a must read Sometimes the truth is definitely stranger than fiction.
As reviewed by 07jf