Friday, June 6, 2014

Best Review of Jung Chang's book on Empress Dowager Cixi

Jung Chang's latest book, Empress Dowager Cixi: The Concubine who Launched Modern China, has been treated all too gently by China scholars since it was released last year in Great Britain. In the United States, as elsewhere, the book leapt to the top of non-fiction best-seller lists.

Finally, the London Review of Books (April 17, 2014)  has published an unvarnished review of this book.  "In the Hornet's Nest" is by noted Qing history scholar, Pamela Crossley, Dartmouth College. Crossley is a rare expert on the Manchus and author of The Wobbling Pivot: China Since 1800. Crossley  reveals the full range of Jung Chang's dangerous distortions of the late Qing reforms and the workings of the Qing court. Crossley shows us how Chang's approach to archival sources has resulted in a book more resembling a novel than a history. This describes  Chang's characterization of Kang Youwei, "who was called ‘Wild Fox Kang’ as a young man because of his philosophical methods, though Chang inexplicably belittles him by giving him this name throughout," writes Crossley.

Read  Crossley's full review, which is published in Baohuanghui Scholarship with permission of The London Review of Books and Pamela Kyle Crossley.

1 comment:

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