From the bestselling author of Wild Swans and Mao: The Unknown Story, the extraordinary story of the woman who single-handedly dragged China into the modern age
Empress Dowager Cixi (1835-1908) is the most important woman in Chinese history. She ruled China for decades and brought a medieval empire into the modern age
At the age of sixteen, in a nationwide selection for royal consorts, Cixi was chosen as one of the emperor's numerous concubines and sexual partners. When he died in 1861, their five-year-old son succeeded to the throne. Cixi at once launched a palace coup against the regents appointed by her husband and made herself the real ruler of China – behind the throne, literally, with a silk screen separating her from her officials who were all male.