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The Last Manchu: The Autobiography of Henry Pu Yi, Last Emperor of China Paperback – March 1, 2010
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About the Author
Paul Kramer (1915–2008) was a naval officer and a secret service agent. He acquired and edited Henry Pu Yi’s autobiography in 1965 after learning about it from Chinese American friends.
Top Customer Reviews
several years ago and travel to China (just returned) with my Family. I was
intrigued by the Title of this Book. Very easy to read. Worth your time
reading if you too are a novice to China's past OR if you are just interested
in reading historical many first/second person accounts. Reading it filled in many
gaps in my understanding of China's Imperial System of governing which became
very turbulent prior WW2. I ENJOYED "The Last Manchu".
As interesting as some of the accounts are, I have not been able to stay with it beyond the Imperial Palace because Pu Yi's depth of perception is disturbingly short. When his second wife Wen Hsiu asks for a divorce, he records it as an event, but we have no sense of her before that account beyond the fact that she felt some competition being number two when it came to how much she could get in material things. Pu Yi writes he was too worried about regaining his throne to be a good husband to any wife. Granted. But in his account, Wen Hsiu died in 1950 and never remarried. According to Wiki, she lived until 1953 and remarried in 1947, a Major Liu. Although Pu Yi admits he has no idea what happened to her after she left him, he has left those two notes for posterity. Who has the truth? Presumably Wiki, and that tells us how little of Pu Yi's accounts outside of his own circle can be relied upon.
The man had an incredible life, and survived against all odds, so he should be interesting -- but he isn't. This account, approved by the Communists (so perhaps ultimately a propaganda piece), shows someone spoilt and incapable of learning from experience. He appears to feel nothing about his mother's suicide beyond the fact that it got the witchy Than Kang or Tuan Kang off his back. He has nothing but contempt for his father.Read more ›
The first 3/4 of the book will make you very angry at Pu Yi. He is incredibly self-centered with all of his focus being on his own continued life and continuing imperialism in China. He not once thinks of the good of the Chinese citizens, let alone those in his own household. He even routinely beats them and sees nothing wrong with this. It takes thought reform under the communist Chinese for him to see his flawed character and false perception of the world. Although the translator calls this time-period his "brain washing," I think that is a biased view. Pu Yi never once recalls being tortured or dehumanized by the communists. He is put in a cell with others, forced to take care of himself for the first time in his life, shown he is not above others simply because of who his parents were. He reads and studies communism and comes to regret how he treated those beneath him when he was emperor and afterward. He comes to see flaws in his character and simply wants to find a career and contribute to China. This transformation is fascinating and makes the read worth it, although I do believe this autobiography will mainly only appeal to those with an interest in Chinese history.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Wonderfully sad. Succinct, clear, well written and compelling. Leaves you craving more detail, and pictures.Published 8 months ago by Reviewer2000
A touching and faithful story of the last of Chinese Emperors. A well written and very much attractive book. Every one interested in Chinese modern history will certainly enjoy it.Published 17 months ago by Jean D.
It was interesting to read his point of view of his life and times.Published 20 months ago by Marsha R. Andrews
Well it's exciting, interesting autobiography full of details related to life in the Forbidden city before the end of the empire. Love this book!Published 21 months ago by Sergej Mandic
must follow up read for Empress Dowager Cixi by Jung Chang if you want to understand modern China's evelution into Today's world power. Read morePublished 22 months ago by Reen
I found this very interesting, but definitely sad. China has been such a great country for thousands of years. Read morePublished on June 29, 2014 by Erica J Wool
I'm not specialist, didn't have to read the book yet an compare to Bertolulicci's "las Emperoror" film,nonetheless if you are interested in the Chinese modern history not... Read morePublished on May 15, 2014 by Daniel Macia
I found the book a little dry for my taste, and I'm a person who reads historical books for fun. Too much fact and not enough substance and insight.Published on February 16, 2014 by Denise M.