** Empress Dowager Cixi by Jung Chang


Empress Dowager Cixi is a remarkable portrait of a remarkable woman, who rose to govern China from a very modest beginning as one of many concubines, deftly enlisting the dead emperor’s (first) wife as her co-leader as well as the official mother of her very own son. The son did not turn out too well, nor did anther, adopted one, but she kept ruling and transforming China into the modern age, making friends with foreigners while struggling to keep her immense empire together. The book is very a very personal story of Cixi, from her preferred garments to her superstitious ways to her superb grasp of political strategy, which gives it its charm;  on the other hand, I found appropriately tedious the details of political intrigues and wars.

 

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