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Pirate King: Coxinga and the Fall of the Ming Dynasty Hardcover – 17 Jun 2004


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: The History Press; 1st Edition edition (17 Jun. 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0750932694
  • ISBN-13: 978-0750932691
  • Product Dimensions: 15.6 x 1 x 23.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,205,428 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Jonathan Clements is the author of many books on East Asian history, including biographies of emperors and empresses, statesmen and warriors, foreign visitors and outcast rebels. His works have been translated into over a dozen languages, including French, Spanish, Korean and Dutch, and he achieved a rare distinction when his book on the First Emperor of China was itself published in Chinese.

Product Description

About the Author

Jonathan Clements is a writer and broadcaster on Japanese subjects, appearing on programmes for Channel Four, the Sci-Fi Channel, and US National Public Radio. His publications include The Moon in the Pines, The Teachings of Confucius and The Little Book of Chinese Proverbs. He was the recipient of a Japanese Festival Award for outstanding contributions to the understanding of Japanese culture.

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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 5 Jan. 2005
Format: Hardcover
Before reading this book, I had never heard of Coxinga, the "Pirate King." After reading it, I realized there were a lot of other things I had never heard of, either. I learned about early 17th century southeast China, about the position of the island we know today as Taiwan in relation to the mainland, and about the amazingly cyclical nature of Chinese history in general. What impressed me most, though, was to see how much interchange there was in the area so long ago, among totally different cultures. I never imagined that there was a "pirate king" in the South China area in the 17th century who was half-Japanese, who fought the invading Manchus on the mainland, the Dutch on Taiwan, had dealings with the Spanish, Portuguese, English, and even kept a contingent of African warriors about him. If the story seems almost too wild to be true, Clements has thoroughly documented it, with entertaining footnotes and appendices, once again proving that there is really no need to write fiction; reality is much more fantastic. In fact, while this book could be used as a history or reference book, readers out for entertainment need not fear that it will serve as a sleeping pill at night, or lie around gathering dust. _Pirate King_ is a rip-snorting, hair-raising, blood-curdling adventure, with murders and betrayals and empires collapsing and everyone jockeying for power or self-preservation. And Clements feasts on historical irony, unexpected twists of events, and obscure but interesting figures of history-- such as one anonymous European in the area who defected first from the Dutch, then from the Zheng clan of pirate-smugglers, and finally joined the Manchus, thus enjoying "the unique position of having fought on all three sides of the prolonged conflict.Read more ›
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Ethel the Pirate's Daughter on 6 July 2004
Format: Hardcover
A foundling prince flees his evil stepfather, shielded by a whirling flock of magpies. A failed usurper sits on his throne, watching as poison kills his assembled family. And a lone commander begs his superiors to listen to his fears that a pirate king is plotting against him -- all moments from the action-packed, mind-boggling story of Coxinga. Author Clements scrupulously references a series of tales that grow ever taller, as the son of a smuggler and a samurai is caught up in the Manchurian invasion of China, is symbolically adopted by an imperial pretender, and swears to fight to the death for the honour of the Ming dynasty. This one has Hollywood written all over it, from the freed African slaves that formed Coxinga's personal bodyguard, to the gripping siege of the European base on Taiwan, attended with divine visions, battling goddesses, and the defiance of a heroic priest. A truly incredible page-turner, told with consummate skill, and all the more shocking for being true.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Frank Pembleton on 22 Jun. 2004
Format: Hardcover
For those willing to delve further into areas of history and geography that few recent anglophone authors have chosen to cover, this is the ideal book. Clements has researched 17th century Asia to a degree few authors are capable of, being an experienced linguist & translator himself. His extensive use of original language sources from China, Taiwan and Japan (as well as Western ones) allow him the freedom as a writer to concentrate on the extraordinary narrative, telling a tale that, while centred around Coxinga, encompasses a fascinating array of individuals from all sorts of backgrounds and professions, without any one of whom the history of China and European involvement in Asia might have taken a different course. Many situations recounted leave one incredulous, and if written as fiction would demand massive suspension of disbelief at the inherent drama, yet are well-sourced - the appendices, notes and sources are most thorough, and should lead the interested reader to fustier academic texts if so desired. Readers of Giles Milton and Peter Hopkirk should approach with enthusiasm - and for those who don't normally do so, have a quick read of the index - some highly amusing juxtapositions will keep one chortling for a while.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Neil Chapman-Blench on 9 Sept. 2014
Format: Hardcover
Very unusual. Had little idea of this period. Excellent book
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By C. Crispin on 18 Aug. 2009
Format: Paperback
Fails to live up to expectations, tough reading, simply put it is not a very exciting story. It gets going at the end. Be prepared for a long slog to get the best out of this book.
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