Treason by the Book

Treason by the Book

3.6 (260 ratings by Goodreads)
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"A savory, fascinating story of absolute rule, one that not only reveals a great deal about China's turbulent past but also suggests where some of the more durable reflexes of China's current leaders have their roots. . . . A detective yarn and a picaresque tale." (Richard Bernstein, The New York Times) Shortly before noon on October 28, 1728, General Yue Zhongqi, the most powerful military and civilian official in northwest China, was en route to his headquarters. Suddenly, out of the crowd, a stranger ran toward Yue and passed him an envelope--an envelope containing details of a treasonous plot to overthrow the Manchu government. This thrilling story of a conspiracy against the Qing dynasty in 1728 is a captivating tale of intrigue and a fascinating exploration of what it means to rule and be ruled. Once again, Jonathan Spence has created a vivid portrait of the rich culture that surrounds a most dramatic moment in Chinese history.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 300 pages
  • 134.62 x 200.66 x 20.32mm | 272.15g
  • Penguin Putnam Inc
  • Penguin USA
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • Reissue
  • 0142000418
  • 9780142000410
  • 671,053

Review quote

Praise for Treason by the Book
A History Book Club Selection
"Compelling . . . reads like a medieval whodunit."
--The Wall Street Journal
"A fascinating, beautiful book."
--The Washington Times
"Near-cinematic suspense . . . Spence's depiction of the investigation is mesmerizing."
--Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel
"An infectiously readable narrative . . . on par with bestselling works of historical reconstruction such as Dava Sobel's Longitude . . . Eighteenth-century China springs to life."
--The Dallas Morning News
"A slice of history told in the lively manner of a novel . . . A novel of ideas."
--Ian Buruma, The New York Times Book Review
"[A] fascinating detective story."
--The New Yorker
"A work of history that pulses with emotion, with vital characters re-created vividly, with complex situations lucidly unraveled, with irony underscored. His straight forward prose style and use of the historic present give his work an engrossing immediacy. It is history of the best kind."
--The Philadelphia Inquirer
"A delicate spider's web of a book, deft, fascinating, and precise as Chinese calligraphy."
--The Los Angeles Times
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About MR Jonathan D Spence

Jonathan Spence's eleven books on Chinese history include The Gate of Heavenly Peace, Treason by the Book, and The Death of Woman Wang. His awards include a Guggenheim and a MacArthur Fellowship. He teaches at Yale University.
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Table of contents

Treason By the Book - Jonathan D. Spence Foreword
Prologue: The Letter
One: The General
Two: The Emperor
Three: The Messenger's Trail
Four: In Hunan
Five: The Phoenix Song
Six: Talking Back
Seven: Summer Lessons
Eight: The Pardon
Nine: The Solitary Bell
Ten: Coauthors
Eleven: The Source
Twelve: Sounds of Discord
Thirteen: Spreading the Word
Fourteen: Transformations
Fifteen: Retribution
A Note on the Sources
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Rating details

260 ratings
3.6 out of 5 stars
5 18% (48)
4 38% (100)
3 30% (78)
2 12% (30)
1 2% (4)
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