Autumn in the Heavenly Kingdom: China, the West, and the Epic Story of the Taiping Civil War

By Stephen R. Platt

Winner of the 2012 Cundill Prize in History

A gripping account of China’s nineteenth-century Taiping uprising, one of many biggest civil wars in heritage. Autumn within the Heavenly Kingdom brims with unforgettable characters and shiny re-creations of big and sometimes grotesque battles—a sweeping but intimate portrait of the clash that formed the destiny of recent China.
 
The tale starts within the early 1850s, the waning years of the Qing dynasty, while note unfold of an immense revolution brewing within the provinces, led through a failed civil servant who claimed to be the son of God and brother of Jesus. The Taiping rebels drew their energy from the bad and the disenfranchised, unleashing the ethnic rage of thousands of chinese language opposed to their Manchu rulers. This homegrown stream appeared all yet unstoppable till Britain and the U.S. stepped in and threw their aid in the back of the Manchus: after years of big carnage, all competition to Qing rule was once successfully snuffed out for generations. Stephen R. Platt recounts those occasions in spellbinding element, construction his tale on interesting characters with opposing visions for China’s destiny: the conservative Confucian pupil Zeng Guofan, an unintended normal who emerged because the such a lot influential army strategist in China’s smooth historical past; and Hong Rengan, a super Taiping chief whose grand imaginative and prescient of creating a contemporary, business, and pro-Western chinese language kingdom led to tragic failure.
 
This is a vital and enchanting historical past of the increase and fall of the circulate that, a century and a part in the past, may have introduced China on a wholly assorted direction into the trendy global.

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1, p. 355. forty five. Thomas Bowlby, diary access for August nine, 1860, in Bowlby, An Account of the final challenge, p. seventy three. forty six. Bowlby, An Account of the final undertaking, p. 245. forty seven. Ibid. , p. 285. forty eight. The Rev. R. J. L. M’Ghee, How We bought to Pekin: a story of the crusade in China of 1860 (London: Bentley, 1862), p. 114. forty nine. Mann, China, 1860, p. fifty eight. 50. Rennie, The British fingers in North China, p. 88 (“it used to be the 1st war-shot from an Armstrong gun”). fifty one. Mann, China, 1860, p. fifty nine, quoting James wish furnish; Rennie, The British fingers in North China, pp.

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The territory alongside the Yangtze were fought over for greater than 5 years now by way of the imperial and insurgent aspects, conquered and reconquered in flip, and for lengthy stretches it was once challenging to inform that there had ever been an ordinary trend of human lifestyles. towns have been emptied; homes have been stripped of wooden to their window frames to make cooking fires for the passing armies. four Even within the extra wealthy stretches of the river valley there has been a quietness, a stirring of ghosts the place a dense rural society had as soon as lived, and the underpopulated farms have been not able to muster adequate fingers to herald what little harvest they can coax from the soil.

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