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From Barnes & Noble
The future Empress Dowager Cixi (1835-1908) was only twelve when the Emperor Xiangeng chose her to become a Chinese imperial concubine. From that somewhat remote harem position, she rose in the Emperor's favor and in 1856 gave birth to his only surviving heir. After her mate's death in 1861, she schemed successfully to become his successor's regent, launching what was to become an effective forty-year reign over a country that she mainly knew from the inside of her palace. This new biography by June Chang (Wild Swans; Mao: The Untold Story) reveals the Empress Dowager as a surprisingly enlightened leader who, against formidable odds, moved China towards the twentieth century.