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

“To figure out who Gary was and how he arrived at his intricate marriage of absurdist comedy and humane instruction, you have to turn to that memoir, “Promise at Dawn,” a matchlessly entertaining and psychologically persuasive book.” — Richard Bernstein, New York Times

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