Jung Chang has written a third enthralling biography. I very much enjoyed, appreciated, and was enlightened by Wild Swans and Mao: The Unknown Story. Today I finished reading the extraordinary life of the Empress Dowager Cixi.
I had a vague recollection of the Boxer rebellion from my history lessons at school, and in my early 20s when I was commuting to work in London I read a great deal about Chinese communism. But I had never heard of this remarkable woman, a concubine of the emperor who saw what needed to be done to bring her country into the modern age, and found ways to take the power again and again to carry out the reforms. Astonishing that we have not all heard of her.
(image from here)
She was far from an angel; she was just as murderous as any despot, but the good she did seems far to have outweighed the bad. Learning some of the history of a period which had fallen between the cracks of my previous reading has been fascinating too. It is such a pleasure to benefit from slow, well researched and well written input as an antidote to hard to avoid fast thoughtless 'news'.