David J. SilbeyThe Boxer Rebellion and the Great Game in China

Hill and Wang, 2012

by Bob Wintermute on June 3, 2013

David J. Silbey

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[Cross-posted from New Books in Military History] Historian David Silbey returns to New Books in Military History with his second book, The Boxer Rebellion and the Great Game in China (Hill and Wang, 2012). The popular uprising known as the Boxer Rebellion has long only been vaguely understood, with Hollywood playing as great a role in shaping common perception of the event as historians have. The result has been a generally misplaced understanding of the event, focusing more on the besieged Western consulates and t  he relief expeditions than on the complex interactions between the Boxers and the Chinese Court, both between themselves and individually and together against the West. Silbey has written a very accessible account of the Boxer Rebellion that also conveys the complexity of these relationships and the often successful resistance Chinese forces raised against the advancing relief columns. As the West imposed its will over the Manchu court, the stage was set for the nation’s first halting steps into the modern era, setting in motion a long history of exploitation and conflict that would end with the rebirth of China as a world power. An interesting study in the nexus between imperialism, racial ideology, and military history, Silbey’s book again provides the reader with a window onto a misunderstood and often ignored incident that remains relevant even now.

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