The Last Empress has been remembered as one of history''s most mon-strous women-a ruthless Manchu concubine who seduced and murdered her way to the throne in 1861 to rule China through perversion,corrup-tion,and intrigue for half a century.Yet Sterling Seagrave''s magnificent biography of the Dowager Empress Tzu Hsi is both a timely reassessmenht of the myth and an unsparing account of the imperialism from which it arose.
Drawing on a vast array of sources,penetrating the secrecy of the Forbidden City and the sanctimony of Tzu Hsi''s Victorian bIOGRAPHERS Dragom ;adu goes tje ,most vivid and accurate portrait to date of the much-maligned last empress.It is also a riveting chornicle of China''s termi-nal encounter with the West and an astute look at the conquerors'' need to create a monster where they could not find one.
Sterling Seagrave,best-selling author of The Soong Dynasty,grew up on the China-Burma border,the fifth generation of an American family living in the Orient for nearly two centuries.As an ivestigative jounalist in Asia,he contributed to many major newspapers and magazines.His other books include Yellow Rain and The Marcos Dynasty.He and his wife and collaborator,Peggy Sawyer Seagrave,Live in Europe.
The Dowager Empress Tzu Hsi, ruling from behind the silk curtain, held extraordinary power during the last decades of China''s tottering empire. Her name has always been linked with unflattering adjectives like ruthless and cunning. Now, Seagrave explains why the woman has had such a bad press. In this quite irresistible history, the author argues that it was a trio of Englishmen who were ruthless and cunning, and it was through their flawed and distorted reporting on the court that Tzu Hsi received the bum rap from which she has never recovered. Seagrave''s revisionism is based on the earlier revelations of Hugh Trevor-Roper''s Hermit of Peking ( LJ 4/1/77), itself a lively book, but Seagrave is matchless when it comes to turning avid research into engaging history. Wonderful for the general reader (a helpful cast of some 200 characters is provided) but the book also has the notes and bibliography of a scholarly study.
- John H. Boyle, California State Univ., Chico
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.