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Twilight in the Forbidden City (Illustrated and Revised 4th Edition) Paperback – March 18, 2008


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Twilight in the Forbidden City (Illustrated and Revised 4th Edition) + The Last Manchu: The Autobiography of Henry Pu Yi, Last Emperor of China + Dragon Lady: The Life and Legend of the Last Empress of China
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Editorial Reviews

Book Description

This work is the record of Johnston's time spent in Beijing between 1919 and 1924, where he served as tutor to Aisin-Gioro Puyi, the last emperor of China. As a foreigner, Johnston had unprecedented access to the imperial palace. He provides a unique Western perspective on this tumultuous period. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 488 pages
  • Publisher: Soul Care Publishing; 4th edition (March 18, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0968045952
  • ISBN-13: 978-0968045954
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #718,573 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

73 of 82 people found the following review helpful By Richard Wertz (dickie66@webtv.net) on May 21, 1998
Format: Hardcover
Twilight in the Forbidden City is considered by The University of Pittsburgh to be out of date due to the use by R.F.J. of the Yale pronounciation of the Chinese language. However, despite that fact, the author manages to capture some of the most historicaly decisive events in Chinese history due to his close relationship with the Emperor, Pu-Yi. He also manages to reflect on some of the events prior to becoming tutor to the Emperor, including the Boxer Rebellion and the downfall of the Empress Tzu-Hsi, that contributed to the twilight in the Fobidden City. I highly recommend this book to anyone who is a student of East Asian studies.
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24 of 26 people found the following review helpful By K. Percy on January 23, 2004
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Johnston's book is a fascinating study of the end of imperialism in China, but also, as an object of study itself, of the agencies of colonialism. I recommend the book on that basis as much as on the value of Johnston's firsthand account of the last days of the Manchu emperors. "Enjoy with..." as the foodies say, James Morris' lively "Pax Brittanica" trilogy, for example, or letters/memoirs of Gertrude Bell and TE Lawrence. To my mind all of these give a fascinating insight into the good-hearted, brilliant-minded but often disastrously wrong-headed players in colonialism. It's clear in Johnston's book that he went into his job as imperial tutor with an agenda: within days of starting he's outlined a plan to radically disrupt the status quo. All with best intentions, true integrity, and a thorough knowledge of the country and culture. There's a lot for us to learn here.
FWIW, I consider myself a history "dabbler" and these books keep my limited attention,intellect and curiosity fully engaged, so don't be put off by worrying that they're too like the classes we all slept through...
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Laurie on January 5, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
I am nearly done with the book but can't resist posting a rating now.

I write as a person who knew relatively little of Chinese history and was just very curious about the experience of an intelligent Brit in the Forbidden City during this dramatic period in history.

Johnston takes up nearly a 1/3 of the book going through the background material -- the Emperor Guangxu, the Empress Dowager Cixi and his informed opinions of the impact each of these had on the future instability of the Manchu dynasty. This is something anyone who is about to read the book probably needs to know. He does not just launch into his own personal experiences with the last emperor. If you can patiently read through this background you will be rewarded. Later, when he discusses his personal contact with Aisin-Gioro Pu Yi this material returns and it will all make more sense as a continuum of history.

Johnston was an intimate friend and highly influential associate of the emperor. His influence was quite remarkable and his insights are profound, passionate and have all the appearance of being very truthful. He admired the emperor and believed him to be a young man of principal and nobility, courageous in the face of difficult circumstances. I suspect that Johnston's assessment of Pu Yi is much more accurate than Pu Yi's later assessment of himself, when he wrote his autobiography under the duress of the Chinese communist government. Johnston strikes me as a person who would not hesitate to share contempt or disappointment if that was how he experienced his relationship with the emperor. Johnston has a dry sense of humor -- much like the one conveyed by the actor Alec Guiness in the movie.
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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Edmund W. Peaslee Jr. on January 29, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Tis is a book written by the tutor of Pu Yi, last emperor of the Manchu dynasty in China. It contains a wealth of information concerning life in the forbidden city in the last years of the dynasty. The movie, 'the Last Emperor,"shows Johnston as Pu Yi's tutor and is also excellent in its portrayal of events in the early years of the 20th century as seen from the forbidden city.The child emperor's first question of Johnston illustrates the cultural gap between them: "Where are your ancestors buried?" and the response -- "In Scotland, your majesty."
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Larry D. Stoa on November 21, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
For those with an interest in Asian history, this is an excellent book regarding the days and years of the last Emperor of China. A great read.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Pierre Conrad on November 23, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I picked this up after watching The Last Emperor, and if you're like me and you wanted more, buy this book. It can be difficult to keep up with some of the names, but the history that Johnston details is fascinating. Plenty of stories that were in the movie and many more that the movie never touches on.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Kronas on May 6, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Love this book, since being young I have borrowed this book from interlibrary loans, now I have my own copy. Pictures and diagrams are not bad from the copied original. Maybe one day I can own a 1st printing, but for now I am glad to have a copy on my own book shelve.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Michael Poore on March 11, 2010
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I found the book to be on the dry side and a bit difficult to read as histories often are. What made this book really unusual and worth the effort is that it is written in English by someone who knew and was intimate with the last emperor. This book is a must read for anyone interested in the history of China.
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