The Last Empress: Madame Chiang Kai-shek and the Birth of Modern China

The Last Empress: Madame Chiang Kai-shek and the Birth of Modern China

by Hannah Pakula
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Overview

The Last Empress: Madame Chiang Kai-shek and the Birth of Modern China by Hannah Pakula

With a beautiful, powerful, and sexy Madame Chiang Kai-Shek at the center of one of the great dramas of the twentieth century, this is the story of the founding of modern China.

With the beautiful, powerful, and sexy Madame Chiang Kai-Shek at the center of one of the great dramas of the twentieth century, this is the story of the founding of modern China, starting with a revolution that swept away more than 2,000 years of monarchy, followed by World War II, and ending in eventual loss to the Communists and exile in Taipei. Praised by China scholar Jonathan Spence for “an impressive amount of telling material, drawn from a wide array of sources,” Pakula presents an epic historical tapestry, a wonderfully wrought narrative that brings to life what Americans should know about China—the superpower we are inextricably linked with.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781439148945
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication date: 11/16/2010
Pages: 816
Sales rank: 555,731
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 9.20(h) x 2.00(d)

About the Author

Hannah Pakula is the author of The Last Empress, which was a New York Times notable book, The Last Romantic, which was called by Graham Greene the best biography and one of the three best books of the year, and An Uncommon Woman, which was a Los Angeles Times Book Award finalist. She lives in New York City.

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Last Empress: Madame Chiang Kai-shek and the Birth of Modern China 3.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 12 reviews.
iluvvideo More than 1 year ago
Incredibly well researched and documented, the story of Mai-ling Soong's life journey; as a young girl born into Chinese aristocracy; sent to America for education and her return to China. Her marriage to Chiang Kai-shek, helping him with the revolution to oust the Manchu government and establish republican rule, fighting the Chinese communists and attempting to unify China under one government. Then the war with Japan to regain occupied territories continuing through WWII and ultimately Chiang's move of the government to Taiwan, and the ultimate stagnation,decay and fall of the Chinese Republic. Now it may seem to be more about China and her history (the book covers 1866-2005- a period of 139 years!)but it is truly impossible to separate her life story from that of China. She is instrumental in bringing China from third world status to one of the most powerful and important nations on the planet. Traditionally, the role of women in Chinese culture was one of quiet subservience and obedience. Mai-ling helped bridge the gap between this ancient lifestyle to a much more cosmopolitan one in which she was as important (if not more so) than her husband Chiang Kai-shek. She became a worldwide advocate for China,speaking and personally representing the Chinese Republican government to the world. But this is no propaganda piece. She had her faults as well, mostly her love of fine living, fine clothes and jewelry and her use of esoteric language that seemed over the head of her audience, as if trying to prove her own importance. Madame Chiang comes across as a flesh and blood person. I found the book interesting but dense. It is not meant for easy reading. But I could not put it down. I'm glad I didn't. I highly recommend it!
bjrose More than 1 year ago
Pakula's in-depth biography of one of twentieth century's greatest women is a tribute to the possibilities for China and its rich history. Mayling is an American educated woman, reaching way beyond all limits of the time, who sheds light on the spirit of China and what it may have become under different leadership and guidance. Her family is well-known throughout the world because of the connections to the past, present and future of China. This is a comprehensive lesson into China's soul from the mid-19th century until Madame Chiang Kai Shek's passing into her nineties. It is also a clash of images we surmise of China. One must read this as a historical lesson into China's heart and soul, yet realizing the violent cultural waves constantly forging China into a new era. The photographs are amazing of past leaders, warlords and the family of Mayling. Enjoy the read and Pakula's brilliant depictions of this turbulent era.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Madame Chiang Kai-shek was highly educated, beautiful woman from a influential Christian Chinese family. She was more American than Chinese who became the third wife of Generalissma Chiang Kai-shek. The Madame and the Generalissmo were totally out of touchwith the realities of the everyday struggles of the Chinese peasant. Chiangt Kai-shek was part of the graft, corruption and incompetance of the Kuomintang. Factor in the personalities and egos of Stillwell, Chenault and other Americans. Add in the belief by the US State Department that Mao and the Chinese Communist party were not really bad communists, is it any wonder why the U.S. "lost mainland China to the communists.
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