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Occupy Beijing

November 22, 2011, 12:46 pm

9780809094776 jpgIn the spring and summer of 1900, bands of ordinary Chinese began to spread across northern China, protesting against and attacking the representatives of an imperial world that was remaking their country in the name of modernity and progress. The so-called “Boxers” were mostly leaderless and connected only by their shared desire to resist and rebel.

The empires fought back. Caught in the middle was the tottering Qing Dynasty of China, led uneasily by the Empress Dowager Cixi, who had dominated Chinese politics for half a century. Watching was the rest of the world, caught by the daily reports from journalists embedded with the western forces.

I wrote a book about that summer of 1900. Writing a book takes a while. There are numerous way stations. There’s the research and the writing, the research that results from the writing, the rewriting, the editing, the rewriting that results from the editing, and the re-editing. For most of that time, the project is essentially mine and mine alone, though I did share some of that process on this blog. Only towards the end of the project do I turn things over, to the editors, to the publisher, to Amazon, to the reviewers, and, most importantly, to the public. They make of the book what they can, what they want to, and what they will. By that final stage, it is more the reader’s book than mine.

So, I am now in that latter stage. The book–The Boxer Rebellion and the Great Game in China– comes out in March of next year, but, with all the oddities of timing in the publishing world, the first review has already arrived, from Publishers Weekly:

Silbey’s concise, lively account of an early experiment in multilateral intervention analyzes the imperialist motivations that led a mixed army of eight Western nations into a brief but bloody military expedition to suppress the Boxer movement, which spread across the plains of northern China in 1900, lashing out at the foreign powers that had carved the country into spheres of influence as the Qing dynasty wheezed toward its decline

I like Publishers Weekly.

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