- Audible Audio Edition
- Listening Length: 17 hours and 32 minutes
- Program Type: Audiobook
- Version: Unabridged
- Publisher: Recorded Books
- Audible.com Release Date: March 15, 2012
- Whispersync for Voice: Ready
- Language: English
- ASIN: B007KGFXRC
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank:
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Autumn in the Heavenly Kingdom: China, the West, and the Epic Story of the Taiping Civil War Audible – Unabridged
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Top Customer Reviews
The author is able to rein in the far reaching complex story by focusing on two characters, Zeng Guofan, a scholar and later reluctant soldier who became the most important general defending the Manchu empire and Hong Rengan, the Taiping prime minister who brought word of the rebellion to the West, particularly Christian missionaires who he expected to work with "God worshippers" among the rebels, many of whom had adopted some aspects of Christian belief.
In my view this book is superior to God's Chinese Son: The Taiping Heavenly Kingdom of Hong Xiuquanby veteran China scholar Jonathan Spence, which covers the same territory, but less effectively. Spence's book focused on the actual leader of the rebellion, Hong Ziuquan, and his increasingly delusional world view impacted the book.
But Platt, who I presume was a student of Spence's while at Yale, has outdone the teacher here. Autumn is much easier to follow, in part because of a generous supply of maps, a comprehensive who's who of characters and a timeline clarifying the chronology of events.
The book also gains from Platt's decision to basically pick up the story at midpoint, focusing on the concluding half of the war. The book has been critized for this, but we have a full, busy narrative as it is.Read more ›
It did and Stephen Platt has written an interesting book about the rebellion (which he terms a civil war.) The strengths of the book are many--Platt is an excellent stylist and he has an interesting subject. He follows largely a few crucial figures in the war, both Chinese and English, and paints a convincing picture of their doings. The book is a good old fashioned narrative yarn.
Yet it left me dissatisfied. Although Platt admits that HE, a scholar of China, has never heard of this rebellion until he had studied Chinese history for several years at the graduate level, and had spent a year in China, he blithely ignores much of the Chinese origins of the rebellion and its early years. In the introduction, he says several good books have been written on the subject--this may be true, but I for one do not want to read another book on this rebellion and would have appreciated at least a better summary of the early years of the war.Read more ›
While the prose is readable, there are omissions which are substantive. When the author relates the experience of Yung Wing who initially sided with the rebels and later switched to the Qing dynasty, there are three hundred pages between his appearances and nowhere does the author tell what happened to him. It might have been helpful to note that Yung Wing had become an American citizen as early as 1852 and that he later returned to the United States, where he died in 1912.
Also, the prologue notes the chronology of the ciivl war, but the text does not really follow it to a conclusion. For example, the text ends with the capture of Hong Rengan (the Shield King), while only the chronology notes his later execution for treason.
Perhaps the most egregious omission is the failure to note anything about the motivations and actions of Hong Xiuquan (the founder of the Heavenly Kingdom). The principles of his polity, what he stood for and how his kingdom developed are omitted almost in their entirety.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Great narrative. Finishes up an otherwise too-long story with drama and consideration.Published 10 months ago by S. Coughlin
It is an excellent history of the Taiping Rebellion. Very informative and easy to digest.Published 12 months ago by bruce d. snyder
It was a very interesting work, with a lot of detail about China and their Civil War, the bloodiest in world history. Read morePublished 13 months ago by Cliff Lapp
If you are interested in China history, this is a good book.Published 13 months ago by Carleen Lane
This is a wonderful book. At times it could drag on with unnecessary detail (even for a history buff like myself, he could go a little wild with the details) but overall it was... Read morePublished 13 months ago by Steven Rider
Platt's masterful book, contextualizing the Taiping Rebellion, is a "must read" for anyone who is not satisfied with a Western gloss of China's humbling in the 19th... Read morePublished 13 months ago by P. Ehrhart