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In 1851, a sixteen--year--old girl named Yehonala entered the Imperial Palace of China as a concubine third grade, leaving behind her family, the love of her life, and nearly all contact with the outside world. She emerged as Tsu Hsi, Dowager Empress of China and one of the most powerful autocrats in history. A fascinating tale of love, betrayal, murder, intrigue, and survival, The Last Empress offers remarkable insight into life behind the closed doors of the forbidden city.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780470848814
ISBN-10: 0470848812
Format: Paperback
(200mm x 131mm x 25mm)
Pages: 316
Imprint: John Wiley & Sons Ltd
Publisher: John Wiley and Sons Ltd
Publish Date: 23-Sep-2003
Country of Publication: United Kingdom

Other Editions


UK Kirkus Review » In 1851, a 16-year-old girl, Yehonala, was pressed into service at the Forbidden City as a concubine third class in China's Imperial Palace, leaving behind her family and her betrothed. In 1912, a prophecy stating that a female from the Yeho-Nala clan would destroy the Manchu dynasty came to pass. Yehonala, also known as the Orchid Lady, Ci Xi, Dowager Empress of China, Empress of the Western Palace and nicknamed the Old Buddha, became the greatest female autocrat the world has ever seen. This is an exhaustively researched account of Yehonala's extraordinary rise to power and the fall of the Manchu dynasty. Dr Keith Laidler, anthropologist and filmmaker, details not only the story of Yehonala but also the cultural climate, history and politics of the Middle Kingdom. He sets his tale in the historical context of the time and describes in detail all the customs that influenced the culture, from foot binding to the various ways concubines were trained in the 'love arts'. Laidler also draws comparisons between the struggles faced by China at the turn of the last century and the current conflicts on the world stage, pointing out wryly that leaders rarely learn the lessons taught by history. Absorbingly written, this is a bloody, intense story of a woman who rose to eminence in a time and land that had no respect for her gender, and gained control of one of the greatest empires in the world. (Kirkus UK)

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Author Biography - Keith. Laidler

Keith Laidler is an anthropologist, author and filmmaker. He is the author of seven books and producer of a large number of films, for some of which he did his own camera work. Originally concentrating on nature films, Dr Laidler worked with Sir David Attenborough on The Living Planet. His production company, Wolfshead Productions has made a number of highly acclaimed documentaries for a variety of broadcasters. He holds a PhD in Anthropology from Durham University. Dr Laidler has a strong interest in China, which he visits regularly as founder of The Panda Trust, an organisation formed to protect the panda. He has, over recent years, turned his investigative techniques towards history and religion.

Books By Author Keith. Laidler

Female Caligula by Keith. Laidler

Female Caligula

Hardback, September 2005
Last Empress by Keith. Laidler

The Last Empress

Hardback, March 2003