God's Chinese Son

The Taiping Heavenly Kingdom of Hong Xiuquan

Jonathan D. Spence (Author, Yale University)

Overview | Inside the Book

"A magnificent tapestry . . . 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

Whether read for its powerful account of the largest uprising in human history, or for its foreshadowing of the terrible convulsions suffered by twentieth-century China, or for the narrative power of a great historian at his best, God's Chinese Son must be read. At the center of this history of China's Taiping rebellion (1845-64) stands Hong Xiuquan, a failed student of Confucian doctrine who ascends to heaven in a dream and meets his heavenly family: God, Mary, and his older brother, Jesus. He returns to earth charged to eradicate the "demon-devils," the alien Manchu rulers of China. His success carries him and his followers to the heavenly capital at Nanjing, where they rule a large part of south China for more than a decade. Their decline and fall, wrought by internal division and the unrelenting military pressures of the Manchus and the Western powers, carry them to a hell on earth. Twenty million Chinese are left dead.

Book Details

  • Paperback
  • December 1996
  • ISBN 978-0-393-31556-1
  • 6.2 × 9.3 in / 432 pages
  • Sales Territory: Worldwide

Endorsements & Reviews

“Marvelous and new. . . . [Spence] is the pre-eminent literary historian of China.” — Richard Bernstein, New York Times

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