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83 Reviews
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A great introduction to the history of China
I didn't know anything about Chinese history, and wanted to read something that would give me some background before visiting China later this year. This book provided a wonderful description of the transition the country made from ancient to modern in the second half of the nineteenth century - incredibly (given the male-centred culture) under the guidance and...
Published 3 months ago by Steve Hotchkiss

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21 of 28 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Fox News at the Imperial court
This book is just a joke. Cixi, whatever she was, was primarily a survivor and a killer. What is infuriating with this book is that Jung Chang is putting in the narrative quotes that are supposed to come from historical records. Unfortunately she does not provide in a footnote where they come from.

And of course, it is in a totally fictitious modernised...
Published 8 months ago by Serge Berthier


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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A great introduction to the history of China, 26 April 2014
I didn't know anything about Chinese history, and wanted to read something that would give me some background before visiting China later this year. This book provided a wonderful description of the transition the country made from ancient to modern in the second half of the nineteenth century - incredibly (given the male-centred culture) under the guidance and inspiration of Cixi, the emperor's concubine.
The book provides a vivid picture of how life in China had been conducted for centuries, and how it had to face up to the realities of modern industry, global trade and relationships with foreign powers (often problematic). Cixi was an amazing woman, who made many mistakes but still had the vision and determination to transform China and improve the lives of its citizens. The times were cruel and inevitably there are references to distressing or violent practices - but in my view the author achieves the right balance, describing only as much as necessary.
The book is not a light read - but very informative, well-researched and thought-provoking.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars End of Empire, 21 May 2014
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DB "davidbirkett" (Co. Kildare, Ireland (but born & raised Liverpool, UK)) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Empress Dowager Cixi: The Concubine Who Launched Modern China (Kindle Edition)
This is a very enjoyable book about a period in Chinese history that I new scandalously little about: from the Opium Wars to the time of "The Last Emperor". I knew a bit about the Japanese sinking a Chinese fleet, but I had in the back of my mind that it was battleships v wooden junks. It turns out it wasn't quite that one sided - a start had been made to modernise the Chinese Navy, but they hadn't progressed as rapidly as the Japanese. I knew about the Japanese occupying Manchuria, and a little about the Boxer rebellion, but about Chinese politics of the time? Nothing.

So it's good to get the period coloured in, but it has to be borne in mind that this is revisionist history and that the "official" history of CiXi still has lots of adherents. And I'm in no position to judge. So while you should most definitely read the book, you should also read some of the most helpful critical reviews, plus the Wikipedia entry on CiXi.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating, 2 Oct 2013
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This review is from: Empress Dowager Cixi: The Concubine Who Launched Modern China (Kindle Edition)
Excellent book, kept me really absorbed. I do not know enough of this period of Chinese history to be able to judge its overall accuracy, but it provided a fascinating insight into the customs and traditions of the Imperial Court.
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19 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Moving book and stunning in its detail, 8 Oct 2013
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This book is stunning and deeply moving. I'm reading it as I work in Beijing and many of the places and cities mentioned are nearby.

It's a very human story about one woman's determination to survive and impose a measure of common sense in a world that was falling into chaos

It's about China at the end of the dynastic period that had lasted more than 5000 years, China's government, such as it was, was stuck in rigid formality and petrified protocols unable to respond to external threats and challenges.

The facts that pepper the book are fascinating and I cannot begin to list them but each opens a window onto a stylised fantasy world that was the Forbidden City and a brutal world that was Court politics.

Plenty of sex and violence, and combinations that I had not thought of...

Really excellence read
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Compelling reading., 5 Dec 2013
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I would recommend this book to anyone who is interested in history and would like to know more about China. When I first looked at the book over 370 pages I thought I may find it a bit too long for me. But on the contrary is is so interesting and keeps you continually fascinated and enthralled by such an amazing woman.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gave me more about the transission of China into modernity than any other book, 21 Mar 2014
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Nils Finn Munch-petersen (Gudhjem, Denmark) - See all my reviews
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Exiting and superbly well written giving the feeling of being in China at the time. I was not soimpressed by Jung Chang's book about Mao, which was probably too close to present to write without (understandable) hatred. The story about Cixi is a masterpiece
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars History masterpiece., 16 Mar 2014
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This review is from: Empress Dowager Cixi: The Concubine Who Launched Modern China (Kindle Edition)
When the most fascinating periods of history are presented as beautifully and grippingly as this, for me. there is no genre to compete. So far, fifteen stars and only limited by Amazon's parameters. Her three masterpieces are most of what you need to know about China in the last one hundred years. And you do need to know.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great for history buffs, 25 Nov 2013
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I bought this book after having read a review in The Telegraph. I've never bought a book like this before but the piece that I read made the book sound very interesting. I knew nothing of this era or subject and I'm so pleased I did buy this book as I now know a little of the struggle that she went through. I would recommend this book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Enpress Doweger Cixi, 24 Nov 2013
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Extremely readable, great historically and also very entertaining eventhough Cixi was a female despot. Shed a lot of light on omen status in China.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A scary world, 14 Nov 2013
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This book opens the lid on feudal China, but beware it is a book that needs concentration and some linguistic skill.
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