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The Search for Modern China and Return to Dragon Mountain
The last years of the Qing dynasty were a time of rumors, adventures, and mysterious opportunities for the polyglot inhabitants of Beijing. The memoir written in 1911 by the self-styled 'Princess' Der Ling, lady-in-waiting to the Empress Dowager between 1903 and 1905, has always presented baffling problems concerning accuracy and interpretation. Imperial Masquerade is an ingenious rethinking of the available evidence, and presents an absorbing account of how Der Ling survived at Court, and what it must have been like to work for such a formidable ruler.
— Jonathan Spence