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God's Chinese Son: The Chinese Heavenly Kingdom Of Hong Xiuquan
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God's Chinese Son: The Chinese Heavenly Kingdom Of Hong Xiuquan

3.9  ·  Rating details ·  763 Ratings  ·  80 Reviews
God's Chinese Son A powerful account of the largest uprising in human history--the Taiping rebellion (1845-64)--in which 20 million Chinese were left dead, God's Chinese Son tells "a story that reaches beyond China into our world and time; a story of faith, hope, passion, and a fatal grandiosity" (Washington Post Book World). Photos. Author lectures & tour. Full descri ...more
Paperback, 512 pages
Published May 19th 1997 by HarperCollins (first published January 1st 1996)
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Mar 24, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
1. The book is about the rise of one Hong Xiuquan in the mid-19th century China to become leader of the Christian millenarian sect that caused the Taiping Rebellion.

2. The book for me really begins with the excellent overview of the pantheistic religious traditions prevalent in Hong Xiuquan's home district of Hua, about forty miles north of Canton. This is no doubt the ignorance against which Hong will rant in furture chapters.

3. For some reason, perhaps because it's hardwired into me by ge
Aug 22, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-history
There are millions of goopy songs and movies about star-crossed lovers, but you hardly ever hear anything about star-crossed readers. I am a star-crossed reader.

I bought this book in the year 2000 and placed it lovingly in my crates of books to be shipped around the world to an extremely isolated location, where I planned to live for a few years. My vision: to sit out on the veranda on long tropical evenings, sipping cocktails and reading this particularly lunatic tale of historical mayhem and r
Jul 31, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Talk about your crazy Christians!!! I finally finished God’s Chinese Son, and man. It was more challenging than I thought to set aside my preconceived notions of what is acceptable, or at the very least, understandable regarding religious doctrine. For those not in the know, this book by Jonathan Spence follows the rise and end of the Taiping in nineteenth century china. And for those really not in the know, the Taiping were some crazy Christians. Seriously. It movement originated with a guy who ...more
Apr 29, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting read. Hong Xiuquan was a local school teacher who took (and failed) the Confucian licenate tests several times to try to rise in position in the governing Qing bureaucracy. After his fourth and final attempt, Hong had a fever induced vision while he was bed ridden for forty days with an illness. Hong had recently read and been influenced by some protestant religious tracts that were being distributed at the examination site. The vision he had had him ascending to heaven where he foug ...more
May 29, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A thorough investigation of the Taiping Rebellion. As historical scholarship, it's exhaustive. As a casual read for somebody, like myself, without an extensive grounding in Chinese history, it can be exhausting. As far as the former, there's little better. As far as the latter, it's hard to recommend, except for those keenly interested in some of history's more obscure currents.

I will say that I would have liked to see more of the results of the aftermath of the Taipings. It doesn't examine the
If you like informative books that try to compact as many details as possible between their covers, you'll probably like this book. For me this book is a chore to read. Although Dr. Spence's writing is very educational and seemingly well-researched, it makes for a dry read. The Taiping Rebellion is interesting to learn about, but my rating has nothing to do with what Dr. Spence was writing about and everything to do with how he actually wrote it.

The book is packed with facts big and small. Most
Oct 01, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really did enjoy this book about the Taiping Rebellion in China. Having lived in the Orient for almost 25 years and also being a Christian missionary, I found it doubly interesting and instructive. Sometimes just a little Christianity can do more harm than good if the recipient is mentally unstable, and I think it is fair to judge Hong Xiuquan to have been in just that sort of condition, with a mixture of self-serving and corruption thrown in for good measure. I also saw glimpses of what would ...more
Dan Grible
Jun 02, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed, history
Highly successful as a work of narrative and psycho-history (yes, that is a real term). However, I was hoping for a more birds eye narrative that would explain the social, economic, political, and religious forces that affected (Hong) Xiuquan, his world and how these impetuses caused this young many to wreak so much havoc on the Middle Kingdom in the late-middle 19th century. Moreover, for what is probably one of the most bloody and destructive events in not just the 19th century but world histo ...more
Hong Xiuquan failed the provincial tests on Confucian texts to get a job in the old Imperial Chinese bureaucracy four times. So, after a dream that he had ascended to heaven to meet his father God and his big brother Jesus, he set out on a new career as a messianic leader, "God's Chinese Son." Oh, and he also decided to revolt against the Quin Dynasty who ruled China back then. The result was the bloodiest event in history up until the Second World War: the Taiping Rebellion of 1845-64 in which ...more
Chris Brown
Apr 10, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Jonathan Spence is THE modern Chinese historian. No one else comes close. Here is covering one of the most interesting, bizarre uprisings in world history and the beginning of the end for the Qing Dynasty: The Taiping Rebellion. Anyone interested in history, religious leaders, China, or just excellent scholarship and writing needs to read this book.
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Jonathan D. Spence is a historian specializing in Chinese history. His self-selected Chinese name is Shǐ Jǐngqiān (simplified Chinese: 史景迁; traditional Chinese: 史景遷), which roughly translates to "A historian who admires Sima Qian."

He has been Sterling Professor of History at Yale University since 1993. His most famous book is The Search for Modern China, which has become one of the standard texts
More about Jonathan D. Spence...