During the 19th century, rapacious colonial powers squeezed China mercilessly, seizing territory and extorting profits while missionaries sought souls. In the late 1890s, a virulently resentful peasant movement spread across northern China; foreigners nicknamed its adherents "Boxers" for the martial-arts exercises they practiced en masse. When the movement erupted into open violence in 1900, the imperial government supported attacks on foreigners that escalated into a siege of the foreign embassies in Peking. Diana Preston's The Boxer Rebellion is an account of the 55-day confrontation that alarmed the world. When Western and Japanese troops eventually routed the Boxers, soldiers and civilians looted the capital (to the benefit of Western museums) and extracted yet more concessions from China. The events of 1900 showed both sides at their colorful worst, and the author spares neither Chinese cruelty nor colonial pomposity and racism. Though this narrative history is told almost entirely from a Western viewpoint--of the 200 titles in the bibliography, not one is in Chinese--the many diaries and letters that Preston consulted ensure a lively portrayal of personalities and evocation of the times. She enjoys racy rumors, whether substantiated or not, and is so enamored of the charlatan Backhouse's salacious claims that he had an affair with the Dowager Empress that she details them twice. With little analysis but all the pace and immediacy of a popular novel, The Boxer Rebellion makes for absorbing reading. --John Stevenson In the final year of the 19th century, China was in grave danger of becoming a colony of the West. While various powers bickered over how to slice the pie, their very presence in China, new technologies, and Christian missions, undermined the people's traditional ways. In response, a strange, reactionary movement began to spread like wildfire among the Chinese peasants, and would soon terrorize the foreign community and the world. The Boxer Rebellion is a panoramic chronicle of the Boxer uprising and ensuing two-month siege of the 11 foreign ministries in Peking during the summer of 1900. It left tens of thousands of Chinese dead, precipitated the end of dynastic rule in China, and has tainted China's relationship with the wider world to this day. It was also a richly human story. Relying on the diaries, letters, and memoirs of the defenders, and on her own extensive research from both Chinese and western perspectives, Diana Preston portrays the dramatic human experience of the Boxer uprising: in the diplomatic district of Peking, cut off from the outside world during the desperate weeks of the siege; behind the Byzantine walls of Peking's Inner City, where decisions were made that forever changed the face of Chinese society; among the allied relief forces struggling to lift the siege; in the aftermath when the great city was looted and despoiled. As in A First Rate Tragedy, her acclaimed life of Antarctic explorer Robert Falcon Scott, Diana Preston proves herself a master of narrative history, a writer who brings the past alive with style and freshness. Seen through the lens of the rapid changes in society and culture at the time, The Boxer Rebellion is an important addition to our knowledge of the 20th century.
|Book:||The Boxer Rebellion: The Dramatic Story Of China's War On Foreigners That Shook The World In The Summer Of 1900.|
|Publisher:||Walker & Company|
|Number of Pages:||352|
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