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From the bestselling author of Wild Swans and Mao: The Unknown Story, the extraordinary story of the woman who single-handedly dragged China into the modern age

From the bestselling author of Wild Swans and Mao: The Unknown Story

In this groundbreaking biography, Jung Chang vividly describes how Empress Dowager Cixi – the most important woman in Chinese history – brought a medieval empire into the modern age. Under her, the ancient country attained virtually all the attributes of a modern state and it was she who abolished gruesome punishments like ‘death by a thousand cuts’ and put an end to foot-binding. Jung Chang comprehensively overturns the conventional view of Cixi as a diehard conservative and cruel despot andalso takes the reader into the depths of her splendid Summer Palace and the harem of Beijing’s Forbidden City, where she lived surrounded by eunuchs – with one of whom she fell in love, with tragic consequences.

Packed with drama, fast-paced and gripping, it is both a panoramic depiction of the birth of modern China and an intimate portrait of a woman: as the concubine to a monarch, as the absolute ruler of a third of the world’s population, and as a unique stateswoman.

‘Powerful’ Simon Sebag Montefiore

‘Truly authoritative’ New York Times

‘Wonderful’ Sunday Times

Shortlisted for the James Tait Black Biography Prize

Reviews

If there is one woman who mattered in the history of modern China, it is the empress dowager Cixi…[Her] conventional image is queried in this detailed and beautifully narrated biography, which at long last restores the empress dowager to her rightful place. Chang’s book relies heavily on the vast holdings in the imperial archives in Beijing... She has a wonderful eye for the telling detail and excels at unravelling palace intrigues and corridor politics.

Frank Dikotter, Sunday Times

In this vivid biography, as colourful and intricate as the embroidery on a Chinese robe, [Jung Chang] uses new evidence and meticulous research to cast a spotlight on the amazing woman she regards as the mother of modern China…This is a rich, dramatic story of rebellions, battles, plotting, rivalry, foreign invasion, punishment and forbidden love.

Bel Mooney, Daily Mail

Filled with new revelations, it's a gripping and surprising story of an extraordinary woman in power. Using Chinese sources, totally untapped by western books, this reappraises one of the great monstresses of modern history... Jung Chang's revisionism means that this book reveals a new and different woman: ambitious, sometimes murderous, but pragmatic and unique. All of this adds up to make Empress Dowager Cixi a powerful read.

Simon Sebag Montefiore, BBC History Magazine

Chang has a proven Midas touch... Empress Dowager, by returning to female experience in the style of Wild Swans yet focusing, like Mao, on a controversial ruler, should appeal to fans of both.

Jeffrey Wasserstrom, Financial Times

Chang has a proven Midas touch... Empress Dowager, by returning to female experience in the style of Wild Swans yet focusing, like Mao, on a controversial ruler, should appeal to fans of both.

Jeffrey Wasserstrom, Financial Times

A captivating cradle-to-grave biography

VOGUE

In this vivid biography, as colourful and intricate as the embroidery on a Chinese robe, [Jung Chang] uses new evidence and meticulous research to cast a spotlight on the amazing woman she regards as the mother of modern China…This is a rich, dramatic story of rebellions, battles, plotting, rivalry, foreign invasion, punishment and forbidden love.

Bel Mooney, Daily Mail

An absorbing read.

Josh Neicho, Independent on Sunday

This is an important book, drawing attention to a period in China's history that has received little, and usually only negative, attention. Chang writes with verve, energy and evident concern for the country in which her books are proscribed and her family was made to suffer during the Cultural Revolution.

BBC History Magazine

An engaging and informed political biography … is sure to make waves around the world.

Holly McKenzie, Press Association

Well-researched and provocative… Spirited.

Rana Mitter, New Statesman

Page-turner of a biography.

Chris Patten, Mail on Sunday

Although most of Cixi's previous biographers have demonized her, others have been more measured. This is a spirited, if partisan contribution.

Isabel Hilton, Guardian

Chang has a novelists eye for the small detail, enthralling with her story of how a mere concubine .. came to power in China … both well researched and hugely accessible.

Business Post, Ireland

Jung Chang is a vivid guide… She has a novelist’s eye for the telling detail.

The Economist

Utterly beguiling.

Brighton & Hove Independent

Jung Chang comprehensively overturns the conventional view of Cixi as a diehard conservative and cruel despot... This biography may revolutionise thinking about a crucial period in China's history.

Asian Art Newspaper

This is an important book, drawing attention to a period in China's history that has received little, and usually only negative, attention. Chang writes with verve, energy and evident concern for the country in which her books are proscribed and her family was made to suffer during the Cultural Revolution.

BBC History Magazine

Fascinating… A depiction of the birth of modern China and an intimate portrait of a woman, this is history writing at its best

Ben Ridgeon, Haverhill Echo

A beautifully narrated biography… Chang has a wonderful eye for the telling detail

Frank Dikotter, Sunday Times

Groundbreaking.

Jersey Evening Post

Chang turns the harridan into a heroine.

Felipe Fernandez-Armesto, The Times

Filled with new revelations… Gripping and surprising… Powerful.

Simon Sebag Montefiore, Blackmore Vale Magazine

Absorbing… Chang has a novelist’s eye for small detail… Chang weaves a suspenseful, anecdote-laden tale.

Nadine Oâ??Regan and Anna Carey, Sunday Business Post

One of those rare non-fiction books that reads like a novel without compromising the quality of research – we couldn’t put it down

Topping & Co. Bookshop, Bath Chronicle

One of the most important authors of our age, in that she has shown China to the world.

Catholic Herald

This is an electrifying description of the birth of modern China and an intimate portrait of an extraordinary woman

Olivier Philip Ziegler, Good Book Guide

Chinese political history can be a tough nut to crack, but Chang weaves in and out of Cixi’s biography with an ease that is almost as astounding as the events themselves

Rosemary Maccabe, Irish Times

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Formats & editions

  • Paperback

    9780099532392

    July 1, 2014

    Vintage

    528 pages

    RRP $19.99

    Online retailers

    • Abbey's Bookshop
    • Angus & Robertson Bookworld
    • Booktopia
    • Boomerang Books
    • Collins Booksellers
    • Dymocks
    • Books Kinokuniya
    • The Nile
    • QBD
    • Readings
    • Robinsons Bookshop
    Or

    Find your local bookstore at booksellers.org.au

  • Hardback

    9780224087438

    October 15, 2013

    Jonathan Cape

    464 pages

    RRP $49.99

    Online retailers

    • Abbey's Bookshop
    • Angus & Robertson Bookworld
    • Booktopia
    • Boomerang Books
    • Collins Booksellers
    • Dymocks
    • Books Kinokuniya
    • The Nile
    • QBD
    • Readings
    • Robinsons Bookshop
    Or

    Find your local bookstore at booksellers.org.au

  • Trade Paperback

    9780224087445

    October 1, 2013

    Jonathan Cape

    464 pages

    RRP $35.00

    Online retailers

    • Abbey's Bookshop
    • Angus & Robertson Bookworld
    • Booktopia
    • Boomerang Books
    • Collins Booksellers
    • Dymocks
    • Books Kinokuniya
    • The Nile
    • QBD
    • Readings
    • Robinsons Bookshop
    Or

    Find your local bookstore at booksellers.org.au

  • EBook

    9781448191420

    September 26, 2013

    Vintage Digital

    528 pages

    Online retailers

    • iBooks
    • Amazon Kindle
    • Booktopia
    • eBooks
    • Google Play
    • Kobo
    Or

    Find your local bookstore at booksellers.org.au

Also by Jung Chang

Mao: The Unknown Story

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