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Author(s): Jung Chang
A New York Times Notable Book
An NPR Best Book of the Year
In 1852, at age sixteen, Cixi was chosen as one of Emperor Xianfeng's numerous concubines. When he died in 1861, their five-year-old son succeeded to the throne. Cixi at once launched a coup against her son's regents and placed herself as the true source of power--governing through a silk screen that separated her from her male officials.
Drawing on newly available sources, Jung Chang comprehensively overturns Cixi's reputation as a conservative despot. Cixi's extraordinary reign saw the birth of modern China. Under her, the ancient country attained industries, railways, electricity, and a military with up-to-date weaponry. She abolished foot-binding, inaugurated women's liberation, and embarked on a path to introduce voting rights. Packed with drama, this groundbreaking biography powerfully reforms our view of a crucial period in China's--and the world's--history.
From the bestselling author of Wild Swans and Mao: The Unknown Story, the extraordinary story of the woman who single-handedly dragged China into the modern age
Shortlisted for James Tait Black Memorial Book Prizes: Biography 2014.
"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 "In this vivid biography, as colourful and intricate as the embroidery on a Chinese robe, [Jung Chang] uses new evidence and meticulous research to cast a spotlight on the amazing woman she regards as the mother of modern China.This is a rich, dramatic story of rebellions, battles, plotting, rivalry, foreign invasion, punishment and forbidden love." -- Bel Mooney Daily Mail "Jung Chang tells a story and what a colourful tale it is.This is history at its most readable." -- George Walden Evening Standard "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 "A truly authoritative account of Cixi's rule. Her story is both important and evocative." -- Orville Schell New York Times
Jung Chang is the best-selling author of Wild Swans (1991, which the Asian Wall Street Journal called the most read book about China), and Mao: The Unknown Story (2005, with Jon Halliday), which was described by Time Magazine as 'an atom bomb of a book'. Her books have been translated into more than 40 languages and sold more than 15 million copies outside mainland China where they are both banned. She was born in China in 1952, and came to Britain in 1978. She lives in London.