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The Taiping Rebellion – Part 1
Beijing City Wall 1870

The Taiping Rebellion – Part 1

Recently, I have been reading about the civil war in China which lasted from 1850 till 1864. Professor Stephen R. Platt has written an important and very readable history of the later stages of the rebellion called Autumn in the Heavenly Kingdom. The Taiping Rebellion plays an important role in the story of Qiao's Grand Courtyard and is one of the most important events in modern Chinese history. Beijing City Wall 1870 (close to what Nanjing looked like in 1860) In short, the Taiping rebellion started in the far south of China, fairly close to Hong Kong by a man named Hong Xiuquan, who, while he showed great promise as a scholar, failed to pass the Imperial exam after numerous attempts and despite his decades making a modest living as…

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Japan’s Invasion of Korea – 1592-1598

"A Dragon's Head and a Serpent's Tail" by Kenneth Swope (2009) at Amazon.com Korea historically has been uninterested in waging war on its neighbors. The country has an easily defined northern border (mountains in the center, the Yalu river to the northwest, and the Tumen river to the northeast; in all other directions Korea is surrounded by the sea. When Korea unified under the Silla Kingdom around 670, the natural borders gradually solidified in people’s minds, though the northern border was rarely peaceful.  After the Joseon Dynasty took control of Korea in 1394, the country experienced nearly uninterrupted peace for the next ~200 years - and then Japan invaded.  Japan’s invasion of Korea in 1592 is a very strange event in world history. Never before had Japan launched an invasion…

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