Dragon Lady: the life and legend of the last Empress of China

 
9780333593912: Dragon Lady: the life and legend of the last Empress of China
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. 1992, 601pp

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From the Inside Flap:

The author of The Soong Dynasty gives us our most vivid and reliable biography yet of the Dowager Empress Tzu Hsi, remembered through the exaggeration and falsehood of legend as the ruthless Manchu concubine who seduced and murdered her way to the Chinese throne in 1861.

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From Kirkus Reviews:

Spectacularly told debunking of myth and legend surrounding China's last empress--the Dowager Empress Tzu Hsi (1835-1908)--by Seagrave (The Marcos Dynasty, 1988, etc.). Born the obscure daughter of an obscure Manchu officer in 1835, Tzu's notorious ride to fame and power began in the imperial concubinage in 1856, when she gave birth to a boy heir. Seagrave's aim here is primarily to destroy longstanding myths about this most powerful of Chinese women, myths created by Western imperialist adventurers of pen and sword who painted her as the Wicked Witch of the East. The author's primary target and culprit is the infamous British literary agent Edmund Backhouse. Living in China at the turn of the century, Backhouse apparently culled gossip and rumor and fabricated evidence in order to coauthor, with J.O.P. Bland, the influential 1910 book China Under the Dowager Empress--which, according to Seagrave, presented a ``bloodthirsty caricature'' of Tzu that mixed ``Western fantasy and Chinese pornography.'' Backhouse reported that Tzu's ascent to power included killing off enemies with poisoned cakes, keeping hordes of false eunuchs close at hand, and choreographing wild sexual escapades in the Imperial Palace--escapades to which Backhouse claimed invitation. Seagrave relies partly on Hugh Trevor-Roper's Hermit of Peking (1974) to expose Backhouse as a prurient fraud who willfully set out to create a fictitious empress who would satiate Western stereotypes of sex-starved Asian women and justify British adventuring inside China. Seagrave also exposes other Western writers--including Pearl Buck--who perpetuated Backhouse's seamy portrait. An engrossing, fact-filled read and masterful debunking of a troubling distortion of Chinese history. (Sixteen pages of illustrations--not seen.) -- Copyright ©1992, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

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Other Popular Editions of the Same Title

9780679402305: Dragon Lady: The Life and Legend of the Last Empress of China

Featured Edition

ISBN 10:  0679402306 ISBN 13:  9780679402305
Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf, 1992
Hardcover

9780517117996: Dragon Lady

Random..., 1994
Hardcover

9780679733690: Dragon Lady: The Life and Legend of the Last Empress of China

Vintage, 1993
Softcover

9780333525562: Dragon Lady

London..., 1992
Hardcover

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