Through telling the lives of one hundred significant individuals, this book explores how China transformed from dynastic empire to modern republican nation during the period 1796 to 1912.
Both famous and surprisingly little-known women and men are brought together in eight thematic sections that bring to life the complexities of China’s path to modernity. Featured figures include the Dowager Empress Cixi, the power behind the throne of the Qing dynasty for fifty years; Yu Rongling, the aristocratic daughter of a Qing diplomat who trained in Paris with Isadora Duncan and is now seen as one of the founders of modern dance in China; Shi Yang, the most powerful woman pirate in the world, celebrated in popular culture as a female icon; the Manchu-Chinese Duanfang, a lynchpin of late Qing government and an avid collector of international art, murdered by his own troops in the 1911 Revolution that ended dynastic rule; Luo Zhenyu, a pioneer of Chinese archaeology whose discoveries and research empirically confirmed the antiquity of Chinese civilization; and many others.
Written by an international team of specialists, this book populates the landscapes of modern Chinese history with extraordinary individuals, making sense of the drama and creativity of the country’s ‘long 19th century’.
'Engagingly written and beautifully illustrated … Like being invited to a huge party full of interesting (if sometimes unpleasant or even dangerous) people from all walks of life. Indeed, this is a retrospective panorama of a fascinating period in Chinese history, packed with information and providing an entrance into a forgotten world. Harrison-Hall and Lovell have shone a bright light on a neglected area of Chinese (and world) history, and for that the highest praise is due'
Asian Review of Books