Author(s): Stephen R. Platt
Stephen R. Platt's "Autumn in the Heavenly Kingdom" tells the dramatic and disastrous story of the Taiping Rebellion: the bloodiest civil war in history. In the early 1850s, during the waning years of the Qing dynasty, word spread of a major revolution brewing in the provinces. The leader of the this movement - who called themselves the Taiping - was Hong Xiuquan, a failed civil servant who claimed to be the son of God and the brother of Jesus Christ. As the revolt grew and battles raged across the empire, all signs pointed to a Taiping victory and to the inauguration of a modern, industrialized and pro-Western china. Soon, however, Britain and the United States threw their support behind the Qing, soon quashing the Taiping and rendering ineffective the years of bloodshed the revolution had endured. In "Autumn in the Heavenly Kingdom", Stephen Platt recounts the events of the rebellion and its suppression in spellbinding detail. It is an essential and enthralling history of the rise and fall of a movement that, a century and a half ago, might have launched China into the modern world. It is suitable for readers of Jonathan Spence's "The Search for Modern China", Jonathan Fenby's "The Penguin History of Modern China" and Jung Chang's "Wild Swans".
"* 'This book's title promises a lot, and Stephen R. Platt delivers: Autumn in the Heavenly Kingdom is an intricate and compelling historical narrative rich in military campaigning, vivid personalities and, above all, diplomatic misunderstanding... Authoritative and fascinating, Platt's work will interest both the specialist and the casual reader (like me) who wants to learn about an event that presaged China's entry into the modern world.' - Tom Zelman, Minneapolis Star Tribune * 'A refreshing and gripping account that illuminates how civil conflicts can suck in outsiders and why the West has had great difficulties in trying to maintain a facade of neutrality and protect its commercial interests at the same time... Powerful, dramatic and unforgettable.' - Minxin Pei, San Francisco Chronicle"
Stephen R. Platt received his PhD in Chinese history at Yale and teaches Chinese history at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. His work has been supported by the Fulbright program, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Chiang Ching-kuo Foundation.