The rise and fall of the Taiping "Heavenly Kingdom" in mid 19th-century China was one of the most violent events in human history. Led by Hong Xiuquan, a religious visionary and failed civil servant, the Taiping Rebellion cost at least 2 million lives. Hong had a dream in which he ascended into heaven and met his "elder brother" Jesus Christ. He returned to earth charged, he believed, to destroy the "demon devils" who did not share his beliefs. His preaching soon attracted followers, arms and money. After a succession of battles, massacres and sieges, Hong's army seized power over a vast territory. From his capital, Nanjing, Hong ruled his kingdom for 11 years, playing his rivals off against each other. Eventually his army lost its morale and Nanjing was surrounded and besieged. Hong died after eating poisonous herbs, followed by the fall of Nanjing and the rounding up and execution of the surviving Taiping leaders.
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"Marvelous and new... [Spence] is the pre-eminent literary historian of China." -- Richard BernsteinFrom the Back Cover:
The Taiping rebellion in mid-nineteenth-century China was one of the strangest and most violent events in human history. It was led by Hong Xiuquan, a failed civil servant from a peasant family who was convinced by a dream that he was the son of the Christian God, entrusted with the task of saving the world, and was to cost at least twenty million lives. The basic outline of this bizarre rebellion is a matter of historical record: Hong's fiery preaching, which drew to him a fanatical army of followers, the battles, massacres and sieges by which they established power over a vast area of northern China; Hong's eleven-year rule over his 'Heavenly Kingdom' from his capital Nanjing, lolling on a golden sedan chair carried by concubines and playing his worshippers off against each other, the eventual demoralisation of his formerly invincible army, whose leaders by now included a motley collection of foreign mercenaries; a succession of defeats, the siege of Nanjing and the increasingly deluded and tyrannical Hong's death by poison. It is a titanic story.
To this Jonathan Spence adds insights into the minds of the participants – Hong in particular – and an immediacy in the unfolding of the narrative which makes 'God's Chinese Son' unlike any other history book of recent years. The book is a revelation both in its intimate detail and its grand scale, a work of tremendous force, with all the passion, drama and intensity of a great novel.
"Crammed with passion and violence and odd moments of humour. It reads like a great novel, and once again confirms that Jonathan Spence is the great literary historian of China writing in English today.”
LINDA JAIVIN, 'Australian'
"Combines scrupulous scholarship and a vivid imagination. The result is enthralling."
SIMON SCOTT PLUMMER, 'The Tablet'
MARIE ARANA-WARD, 'Washington Post'
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Book Description Flamingo, 1997. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Brand New. 100% Money Back Guarantee! Ships within 1 business day, includes tracking. Carefully packed. Successful business for 25 Years!. Bookseller Inventory # mon0000002686