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

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Vintage Books, 1993 - Biography & Autobiography - 601 pages
20 Reviews
The last empress of China--Dowager Empress Tzu Hsi (1835-1908)--is remembered as one of history's monsters, an iron-willed concubine who, after usurping power in 1861, ruled from the Dragon Throne for half a century. Her reign, in the aftermath of the Opium Wars and through the Boxer Rebellion until the collapse of the 2,000-year-old empire, has traditionally been seen as one of murder, poison, and intrigue. But the wicked image is false. In 1974, to the dismay of scholars, Sir Edmund Backhouse--the biographer most responsible for the widespread vision of Tzu Hsi as monster--was revealed to be a con man. And now the author of the celebrated best-seller The Soong Dynasty has undertaken the first complete reappraisal of the empress--exposing Backhouse's writings about her as a major hoax and forgery, and establishing that the most important Western correspondent in Peking during her reign--Dr. George Morrison of the London Times--kept a secret diary contradicting his own dispatches about Tzu Hsi. Drawing on many unpublished or long-overlooked contemporary sources, Sterling Seagrave shows us Tzu Hsi as a complex woman whose desperate--though often misguided--efforts to hold her country together take on a different coloration in the context of unrelenting foreign attempts to colonize and tear it apart. Far from being all-powerful, she was actually a hostage of vengeful Manchu princes who were using her in a power struggle against both Chinese reformers and foreign interference. Here at last is an authentic portrait of this fascinating historical figure, as well as insight into the Western craving to believe in a sinister, dragon-haunted Orient. Dragon Lady is at once a compelling biographyand the equally compelling story of how a myth was contrived, how it endured, and how, ultimately, the truth has emerged.

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

User Review  - Quillslinger - Goodreads

Good book, very historically descriptive with gripping writing, a nice insight of the social Norms of the time Read full review

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

User Review  - Ange Power - Goodreads

A fascinating book! Whether the historical facts are right??.....The vivid description of the Manchu Imperial Court was well researched and written. The desecration of the Forbidden City was appalling! Read full review

Contents

I
18
II
42
III
59

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About the author (1993)

Sterling Seagrave was a reporter for the Washington Post before becoming a freelance investigative journalist contributing to Time, Life, Atlantic Monthly, and the Far Eastern Economic Review. He is the author of The Soong Dynasty as well as other books, and with Peggy Seagrave he co-authored the bestselling Lords of the Rim and The Yamato Dynasty.

Peggy Seagrave was the senior researcher and picture editor at Time-Life Books. Along with Sterling Seagrave, she is a co-author of the bestselling Lords of the Rim and The Yamato Dynasty.

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