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God's Chinese son : the Chinese heavenly kingdom of Hong Xiuquan / Jonathan Spence

Main Author Spence, Jonathan D., 1936- Country Reino Unido. Publication London : Flamingo, 1997 Description XXV, 400 p. : il. ; 24 cm ISBN 0-00-638441-2 CDU 951
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Item type Current location Call number Status Date due Barcode Item holds
Monografia Biblioteca Fernão Mendes Pinto
BFMP 951 - S Não requisitável | Not for loan 459396
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Reviews provided by Syndetics

Library Journal Review

A China specialist who's had two LJ Best Books (The Search for Modern China in 1991 and The Memory Palace of Mateo Ricci in 1984) examines a bloody 19th-century uprising in China whose leader claimed to be the son of God. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Publishers Weekly Review

This is the strange, compelling tale of the mid-19th century Taiping Rebellion, a political-religious upheaval led by a Chinese visionary who believed himself commissioned by Christ to wage war on the demons of the Manchu dynasty. Hong Xiuquan, a Cantonese schoolteacher driven mad by his failure to pass the civil-service exam, proclaimed himself Heavenly King, formed the God-worshipping Army (comprised of famine-stricken peasants) and in 1853 seized Nanking as his capital. Spence (The Search for Modern China) describes how Hong attempted to turn it into his own New Jerusalem, imposing a harsh legal code based on his tortuous interpretation of the Old and New Testaments. Finally defeated by a Manchu army and a force of volunteers under British Army officer Charles ``Chinese'' Gordon after 11 years of rebellion, Hong's movement left 20 million dead in its wake. Researched in newly uncovered texts in the British Library, Spence's masterful history shows how widespread unrest stirred by the Taiping Rebellion led to Sun Yat-sen's overthrow of the Manchus in 1911-1912. A first-rate storyteller, he recounts this extraordinary event with verve, offering sharp insights into the political dangers of religious fanaticism. Illustrated. BOMC, History Book Club, QPB and Newbridge Book Club selections. (Jan.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

CHOICE Review

The Taiping Rebellion (1851-64) was the defining trauma of 19th-century Chinese history. It took nearly 20 million lives, devastated the most productive areas of the country, spawned a host of lesser disturbances, and pushed the Qing dynasty--already humiliated by the British in the Opium War (1839-42)--to the point of collapse. Its suppression led to the growth of regionalism and to erratic attempts at Western-influenced "self-strengthening" (zigiang). In the 20th century both Nationalists and communists would claim the Taipings as their revolutionary ancestors. Using the best recent scholarship, Spence, among the most original and innovative historians in any field today, has woven a deft and vividly imagined narrative of the movement through the mind of Taiping founder Hong Xiuguan. Written in the present tense for added immediacy, the rise and fall of the Taiping tianguo (Heavenly kingdom of great peace), based on Hong's bizarre amalgam of Christianity, Confucianism, and Chinese millenarianism, unfolds with stunning force. Accessible to the general reader and useful to the specialist. C. A. Desnoyers LaSalle University

Booklist Review

Newly discovered texts in the British Library convinced Spence to reassess the uprising of China's Taiping Heavenly Kingdom and the actions of its leader, Hong Xiuquan. Spanning the early-to mid-nineteenth century, the resulting epic study presents a fascinating history of the sect's leader: Hong's involvement with a Christian evangelist's writings and the developing mystical beliefs that led him to become a preacher with grandiose plans for Chinese citizenry. Spence traces Hong's eventual conversion and command of legions of religious acolytes into a vast army of supporters destined to attempt an astounding overthrow of the Manchu dynasty. A richly detailed, erudite account that will mesmerize history buffs and China watchers alike. --Alice Joyce

Kirkus Book Review

Absorbing perspectives on what drove the messianic leader of the Taiping uprising that convulsed China during the mid-19th century. Drawing on contemporary texts, noted Yale sinologist Spence (Chinese Roundabout, 1992, etc.) provides a nuanced account of the spiritual life of Hong Xiuquan, a convert to Christianity whose vivid fantasies or visions doomed him to become a crucifer of blood. A native of rural Hua, Hong came to Canton in 1836 at age 22 to sit for civil-service examinations but failed the tests that could have made him a career bureaucrat. In the provincial capital, however, he was exposed to the evangelical doctrines preached by dedicated Christian missionaries from Europe and the US. Convinced by dreams that he was the younger brother of Jesus, whose duty was to establish a Heavenly Kingdom (Taiping) on earth, Hong eventually attracted a considerable following. Aided by widespread discontent with the Manchu regime that erupted after the Opium War, his movement became a religious and military force to be reckoned with. Having flooded into the eastern reaches of the Yangtze River Valley, the so-called God-worshippers seized Nanjing in 1853. Secure in this waterside stronghold, the insurgents built their New Jerusalem, bowdlerized the Old Testament (mainly to give Jesus a less reproachable lineage), and threatened to overrun all of South China. Concerned for the security of their Shanghai trading concessions, Western powers (notably, the UK) backed the central government, which recaptured Nanjing in 1864. Hong died of natural causes weeks before the final defeat, leaving bitter memories of a celestial state that cost millions their lives during its 11-year duration. With a storyteller's flair that other scholars can only envy, Spence provides lucid context for a remarkable but unfamiliar chapter in Chinese and world history. (maps and illustrations, not seen) (Author tour)

Author notes provided by Syndetics

Jonathan D. Spence was born in Surrey, England on August 11, 1936. He received a B.A. in history from Clare College, Cambridge University and a M.A. and Ph.D. from Yale University. He was Sterling Professor of History at Yale University from 1993 to 2008. As a historian specializing in Chinese history, he wrote several books including The Search for Modern China, The Death of Woman Wang, and The Memory Palace of Matteo Ricci. The Gate of Heavenly Peace won the Los Angeles Times Book Award and the Henry D. Vursell Memorial Award of the American Academy-Institute of Arts and Letters.

(Bowker Author Biography)

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