Preston, Diana Besieged in Peking

ISBN 13: 9780094793903

Besieged in Peking

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9780094793903: Besieged in Peking

The 1900 Boxer Rebellion in China culminated in the siege of the eleven Foreign Legations in Peking, their relief by an international force sent up from Tientsin and the subsequent looting of the Forbidden City in Peking.'

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Review:

China at the turn of the century--the 20th century that is--was going through the most profound process of change in its lengthy history: internal revolutions and a shift of balance of power on the international stage. Into the flux of these times came the Boxers, a peasant cult whose practitioners believed themselves supernaturally invulnerable and whose slogan was, simply enough, "Destroy the Foreigner". The imperial ambitions of several nations, Britain and America particularly, received a jolt from the rebellion that ensued. There was a great deal of violence and 11 Foreign Delegations were besieged in Peking; the international community eventually asserted control.

"This book", Diana Preston tells us, "is about the human experience of living through the Boxer rising"; and she works hard to humanise the enormous historical events of China in 1900. She does this by drawing on extensive and often vivid eyewitness accounts and her own prose frequently becomes almost novelistic ("Then, suddenly, above the clamour of rifle fire the distant boom of heavy guns was heard coming from the east" and so on).Sometimes this works very well: we are, for instance, given a compelling sense of how claustrophobic it must have been to live through the siege. Other times the sheer crush of dramatis personae crowds the narrative out a little. But Preston's great skill is in negotiating a line between extreme interpretations of an extreme event. The perspective is more from the Western side, but nothing is black and white in this complex and detailed account. --Adam Roberts

About the Author:

Diana Preston is an Oxford-trained historian, broadcaster and author of several books. She lives in London.

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Preston, Diana
Published by Constable (1999)
ISBN 10: 0094793905 ISBN 13: 9780094793903
New Hardcover Quantity Available: 1
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Book Description Constable, 1999. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. book. Bookseller Inventory # 94793905

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