10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Another masterpiece from Anchee Min!,
This review is from: The Last Empress (Paperback)
It's been a few years since I first read Anchee Min's first book on the life of China's Empress Dowager Tz'u-Hsi which blew me away.
I wasn't even aware that Anchee Min was even working on a second and final instalment of Tz'u-Hsi's life until i was browsing the isles of WHSmiths and came across "The last empress".
I quickly ordered the book from Amazon (much cheeper) and waited impatiently for its arrival.
As soon as "The last empress" arrived I dives straight in and was not dissapointed!
Anchee Min has created another masterpiece which is a must for anybody interested in Tz'u-Hsi, the Manchu dynasty, China or a great story made all the more amazing because it's a true story.
"The last empress" encompasses the later stages of Tz'u-Hsi's life and what are esentially the last years of the Ch'ing (Manchu) dynasty's rule in China.
In the west, the east and even in China itself Tz'u-Hsi has been demonised as "the dragon lady" an evil despot desperate to keep power and China in her hands.
It's wonderfull that Anchee Min has dared to think outside the box and portray Tz'u-Hsi as what she really was, the daughter of an impoverished and disgraced provincial governer who entered the forbidden city as a concubine and left in death as Empress Dowager.
All through the book we see how Tz'u-Hsi fought to save China from the "civilised" west and Japan who systematicaly "raped" China and forced unfair and embarassing treaty after treaty first on Tz'u-Hsi's husband, then her son and finally her nephew (and addopted son).
It disgusted me how the west and Japan took advantage ofChina which didn't want to fight and when it came to the point that they had to were no match for the Iron ships and guns of the west and Japan.
Overall I give this book five stars because I can't give it six.
This book is a masterpiece and along with "Empress Orchid" will hopefully dispell peoples perceptions of Tz'u-Hsi as the evil and tyranical woman who brought the Chinese empire to its knees with her greed and lust for power.
The truth is that the western nations and the newly "modernised" Japanese brought China to its knees and it was only Tz'u-Hsi's strength of character and determination that kept the empire from falling sooner.
In my view Anchee Min has created a lasting and fitting legacy that will in time help to exhonerate the name of possibly the greatest woman China has ever produced, The Empress Dowager Tz'u-Hsi.