The Devil Soldier: The Story of Frederick Townsend Ward

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The Devil Soldier: The American Soldier of Fortune Who Became a God in China

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
With Yankee self-reliance, penniless soldier-of-fortune Frederick Townsend Ward (1831-1862) from Salem, Mass., made himself indispensable to China's Manchu dynasty in its bloody crushing of the Taiping rebellion of 1859. Assembling and commanding a highly disciplined army of native Chinese soldiers in Shanghai, Ward was officially made a mandarin by China's rulers. ``In every sense a free-lance''--a questioner of authority, military doctrine and even of national loyalty--he became a Chinese citizen and in 1862 married Yang Chang-mei, daughter of his most loyal backer. He died in battle the same year; his wife survived him by just one year, apparently dying of ``extreme grief.'' In this sympathetic, solid biography, Carr ( Casing the Promised Land ) focuses on political and diplomatic history, portraying the adaptable mercenary as a harbinger of later efforts to open China to Western assistance. (Aug.)
Library Journal
The Taiping rebellion which swept over China in the mid-19th century may well have been the most destructive civil war in history. Of crucial importance in suppressing the rebels was the up-to-date military hardware and technical assistance provided by Western nations. Of less importance but perhaps of more interest to the general reader was the anti-Taiping aid rendered by mercenary armies. The greatest of these was a mixed force of Chinese and Filipino recruits commanded by generally rowdy officers from America and Europe. The organizational genius behind this so-called ``Ever Victorious Army'' was a Salem, Massachusetts adventurer, Frederick Townsend Ward. Ward's brief career--he died from battle wounds at the age of 30--is brought to life in this fascinating study based on contemporary sources, both English and Chinese. While narrowly focused on the military aspects of the rebellion, The Devil Soldier does succeed in capturing the color and chaos of the great rebellion. Recommended to general readers.-- John H. Boyle, California State Univ., Chico
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780679761280
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 4/28/1995
  • Edition description: Reissue
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 384
  • Sales rank: 276,503
  • Product dimensions: 5.20 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Caleb  Carr

Caleb Carr is a contributing editor of MHQ: The Quarterly Journal of Military History and the series editor of the Modern Library War Series. His military and political writings have appeared in numerous magazines and periodicals, among them The World Policy Journal, The New York Times, and Time. He currently lives in upstate New York.


Caleb Carr was born in Manhattan and grew up on the Lower East Side, where he still lives. He attended Kenyon College and New York University, earning a degree in history. In addition to fiction, Mr. Carr writes frequently on military and political affairs and is a contributing editor of MHQ: The Quarterly Journal of Military History. His previous books include The Alienist, The Angel of Darkness, The Devil Soldier, and The Lessons of Terror. He has also worked in television, film, and the theater.

Author biography courtesy of Random House, Inc.

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    1. Hometown:
      New York, New York
    1. Date of Birth:
      August 2, 1955
    2. Place of Birth:
      New York, New York
    1. Education:
      Attended Kenyon College, 1973-75; B.A. in history, New York University, 1977

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 14, 2000

    An amazing biography

    While this book is far dfferent from Carr's more popular novels (the Alienist and Angel of Darkness) This book is still amazing. Devil Soldier is the biography of an American mercenary who helped the chinese government during the ultra-violent Taiping Rebellion, and is an incredible read

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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