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The Last Empress: Madame Chiang Kai-shek and the Birth of Modern China by [Pakula, Hannah]
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The Last Empress: Madame Chiang Kai-shek and the Birth of Modern China Kindle Edition

4.1 out of 5 stars 55 customer reviews

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Length: 852 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
Page Flip: Enabled

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Pakula, an experienced biographer of royal women (An Uncommon Woman: The Empress Frederick), looks at the imperious (if not imperial) wife of the Chinese Nationalist leader Chiang Kai-shek, presenting a richly complex account of 20th-century China that, despite its length, remains thoroughly engrossing to the end. Born May-ling Soong (1897–2003) and educated in America, Madame Chiang and her five Soong siblings were wealthy, Christian, fluent in English and major players in Chinese politics. Marrying Chiang Kai-shek in 1927, the strong-minded and hot-tempered, shrewd and ruthless May-ling quickly became a partner in his efforts as Chinese leader until the Japanese invaded, and then in 1945 when Mao's Communists drove him to Formosa (modern-day Taiwan), which he ruled until his death in 1975. From the 1930s to 1950s, Americans idolized Madame Chiang as a symbol of Chinese resistance to the brutal Japanese and as an anticommunist stalwart. But critics of her and Chiang's ineffective, authoritarian, corrupt leadership soon became the majority. Pakula draws a vivid if often unflattering portrait of a charismatic Chinese patriot, her husband and family, in tumultuous and tragic times. 16 pages of b&w photos; maps. (Nov. 13)
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“Pakula’s biography is often absorbing. Madame Chiang emerges as more than just her husband’s wife; we see a brilliant, scheming, deliberately alluring, brave, corrupt chameleon of a woman. . . . The Last Empress . . . presents Madame Chiang as far more complex, awful and brilliant than we had imagined.”

--Jonathan Mirsky, The New York Times Book Review

“The tale of Soon May-ling, Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek’s American-educated wife, is epic in scope. Hannah Pakula brings vividly to life the tormented odyssey of China during the 20th Century and the enthralling life story of this singular woman in a wonderfully accessible way.”

--Orville Schell, Director of the Center on US-China Relations at the Asia Society

“A richly complex account of 20th-century China . . . thoroughly engrossing. . . . A vivid if often unflattering portrait of a charismatic Chinese patriot, her husband and family, in tumultuous and tragic times.”

--Publishers Weekly (starred review)

The Last Empress . . . presents Madame Chiang as far more complex, awful and brilliant than we had imagined.”

--Jonathan Mirsky, The New York Times Book Review

“The Last Empress is the definitive biography of May-ling Soong, who came to fame as Mme. Chiang Kai-shek. A rare combination of brilliant writing and insightful scholarship, it captures the complexities of an extraordinary woman in a turbulent time, who influenced the course of China’s history in the 20th century.”

--Henry A. Kissinger



“Ms. Pakula writes like a dream, and her narrative is certainly a pleasure to read; anyone who wants to learn about China in the first half of the 20th century will find The Last Empress a good guide.”

--Melanie Kirkpatrick, The Wall Street Journal

“Pakula’s biography is often absorbing. Madame Chiang emerges as more than just her husband’s wife; we see a brilliant, scheming, deliberately alluring, brave, corrupt chameleon of a woman. . . . The Last Empress . . . presents Madame Chiang as far more complex, awful and brilliant than we had imagined.”

--Jonathan Mirsky, The New York Times Book Review


Product details

  • File Size: 4602 KB
  • Print Length: 852 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; Reprint edition (October 22, 2009)
  • Publication Date: November 3, 2009
  • Sold by: Simon and Schuster Digital Sales Inc
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B002TNGBMM
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Screen Reader: Supported
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #256,459 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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