Synopses & Reviews
Chinese peasants chafed against the foreign technologies and ideas that the imperialists introduced. Then a new movement-mystical, materialistic, and virulently anti-Christian-began to spread among them like wildfire. The foreigners laughed at the peasants' martial-arts routines and nicknamed them "the Boxers"-never imagining that the group, with the backing of China's empress dowager, would soon terrorize the world...This acclaimed account of the Boxer Rebellion, by an Oxford-trained historian, is an important new addition to every shelf of high-quality, highly accessible history.
Fascinating...penned with an obvious addiction to the delicious little details of history: whimsical, outrageous, and macabre. (The Washington Post)
A dramatic narrative that can be read on the beach or in the classroom...well-researched and lavishly descriptive accounts. (The Christian Science Monitor)
“Enthralling.”—The New Yorker
“With meticulous research and passionate style, Diana Preston recreates the tragedy that consumed China a century ago.”—Iris Chang, author of The Rape of Nanking
“An outstanding popular history that also passes muster as first-rate historical research.”—Booklist
“Fascinating…penned with an obvious addiction to the delicious little details of history: whimsical, outrageous and macabre.”—The Washington Post
“A dramatic narrative that can be read on the beach or in the classroom…well-researched and lavishly descriptive accounts.”—The Christian Science Monitor
“Highly readable history.”—The Wall Street Journal
“Compelling…Briskly paced and carefully researched, its drama is replete with curious characters.”—The Boston Globe
“A nail-biting example of narrative history at its best…Preston knows precisely which colorful details will spice up this masterful mix of history, gossip, crystal-clear military strategy and ironic observations about colonial and imperial politiciking—and she keeps the pot at an irresistibly lively boil throughout.”—Salon.com
“Tremendously exciting.”—The Christian Science Monitor
“Diana Preston’s dramatic retelling of the summer-long siege of the Peking foreign district 100 years ago—‘a pivotal episode in China’s fractured relationship with the West’—does much to clarify China’s enduring resentment toward foreign interference…Preston’s account, compiled from the many letters, diaries, and memoirs by European survivors of the siege, captures an odd strain of mordant humor.”—The New York Times Book Review
“A colorful and well-presented treatment of a crucial turning point in history.” —Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“Well-researched and well-told…brings to light the details of this obscure yet culturally significant event. Her stirring account, culled from the letters, diaries, and memoirs of the foreign survivors, shows exactly what it was like after June 20, 1900, when the Boxers and regular Chinese soldiers laid siege to foreign embassies…The vivid eyewitness accounts place the reader in the middle of events. And by shedding light on this important episode in past China-West relations, Preston goes a long way in explaining China’s current suspicious attitude toward the world.”—Houston Chronicle
Relying on the diaries, letters and memoirs of the foreign defenders in the diplomatic district of Peking, and on her own extensive research from both Chinese and Western perspectives, Preston places readers squarely in the middle of events as they unfold during the Boxer Rebellion of 1900.
Includes bibliographical references (p. 402-408) and index.
About the Author
Diana Preston is an Oxford-trained historian, writer, and broadcaster who lives in London, England. She is the author of The Road to Culloden Moor: Bonnie Prince Charlie and the ’45 Rebellion and A First Rate Tragedy: Robert Falcon Scott and the Race to the South Pole.
Table of Contents
The Boxer Rebellion Prologue
I. The Poison in the Well:
China on the Eve of the Boxer Rebellion
1. A Thousand Deaths
2. Boxers and Devils
3. The Approaching Hour
4. Rats in a Trap
5. "Sha! Sha!"
II. "Death and Destruction to the Foreigner!"
20 June21 July 1900
6. A Failed Rescue
7. City of Mud and Fire
8. Behind the Tartar Wall
9. The Drifting Horror
10. The Darkest Night
III. War and Watermelons: 21 July14 August 1900
11. A Truce and a Triumph
12. The Half-Armistice
13. Horsemeat and Hope
14. In through the Sluice Gate
IV. Murder, Rape, and Exile:
Scenes from the Boxer Summer
15. "Tour of Inspection"
16. The Island of the Peitang
17. The Faith and Fate of the Missionaries
18. The Spoils of Peking
V. Another Country?
China in the Wake of the Boxer Rebellion
19. The Treaty
20. The Court Returns
21. . . . And the Foreigner Departs
22. The Boxer Legacy
Notes and Sources