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From internationally bestselling author of Wild Swans, and co-author of the bestselling Mao: The Unknown Story, this is the dramatic, epic biography of the unusual woman who ruled China for 50 years. A woman, an Empress of immense wealth who was largely a prisoner within the compound walls of her palaces, a mother, a ruthless enemy, and a brilliant strategist: Chang makes a compelling case that Cixi was one of the most formidable and enlightened rulers of any nation. Cixi led an intense and singular life. Chosen at the age of 12 to be a concubine by the Emperor Xianfeng, she gave birth to his only male heir who at four was designated Emperor when his father died. In a brilliant move, Cixi enlisted the help of the Emperor's widow and orchestrated a coup that ousted the regents and made Cixi sole Regent. Chang gives us a complex, riveting portrait of Cixi: her ruthlessness in fighting off rivals; her curiosity to learn; her reliance on Westerners who she placed in key positions; and her sensitivity and desire to preserve the distinctiveness of China's past while overturning traditions and exposing its culture to western ideas and technology.
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