Biographer Jung Chang, author of the widely-translated and critically-acclaimed 1991 family history Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China, will be publishing her latest work in October of this year. The upcoming biography tells the story of Qing Dynasty Empress Dowager Cixi (慈禧太后). From The Guardian:
Chang has based her biography on “long and detailed” research in newly opened Chinese and western archives, said publisher Jonathan Cape, and has revealed “a totally different picture” of Cixi “to the one that has prevailed for a hundred years”. One of Emperor Xianfeng’s 3,000 concubines, Cixi rose through the ranks by producing an heir, Tongzhi, and when Xianfeng died in 1861 she ousted other contenders and installed herself as sole regent for her son, ruling China for 47 years.
[…]Her “groundbreaking” new biography will “comprehensively overturn … the conventional view of Cixi as a deeply conservative and cruel despot”, said Jonathan Cape, and show how she abolished foot-binding, developed foreign trade and diplomacy, and revolutionised China’s education system. [Source]
Just as her new biography is expected to question the mainstream reputation of the empress, Chang’s last book, 2005’s iconoclastic Mao: The Unknown Story, challenged the official history of the PRC’s revolutionary hero.