Voices from the Ming-Qing Cataclysm

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China in Tigers` Jaws

Translated by Lynn A. Struve

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This fascinating book presents eyewitness accounts of a turbulent period in Chinese history: the fall of the Ming dynasty and the conquest of China by the Manchus in the mid-seventeenth century. Lynn Struve has translated, introduced, and annotated absorbing testimonies from a wide range of individuals—Chinese and Europeans, missionaries and viceroys, artists and merchants, Ming loyalists and Qing collaborators, maidservants and eunuchs—all telling stories of hardship and challenge in the midst of cataclysmic change.

Until now, biographies of individuals who lived in the late Ming and early Qing periods have been either in-depth studies of important intellectuals or portraits sketched from the historical record and amplified by the imaginations of present-day authors. This book is the first to provide actual comment from a variety of people in different social stations. Some of the documents made accessible to Western readers are little known even to Chinese scholars. The book also breaks new ground by offering examples of the diversity in Chinese historical writing: rustic histories, tendentious reports, self-serving memoirs, family letters, official memorials, and other forms of records. Together these translations provide evidence of the increasing articulateness about personal experience that characterized writing in late Ming times.

Lynn A. Struve, associate professor of history at Indiana University, is also the author of The Southern Ming, 1644-1662.

"Voices from the Ming-Qing Cataclysm is not only a very useful companion to the other studies of the period, but it also stands on its own as a fascinating view of the dynamics of dynastic change in China."—Jonathan Porter, History

"This important and beautifully illustrated documentary study of the mid seventeenth-century Manchu conquest of China and its aftermath is much more than a chronicle of horrors. . . . The book combines skillful translation of a rich variety of primary sources with authoritative commentary and meticulously researched annotation. . . . The book will furnish excellent discussion readings for thoughtful undergraduates as well as being deeply interesting for professional sinologists. More broadly, it will undoubtedly capture many a general reader's heart and mind for Chinese history."—Helen Dunstan, Historian

"The scholarship behind this work is impeccable. . . . The translations are an important contribution to the field. . . . This book presents the voices mediated only by the translation itself and leaves interpretation to the actors. . . . It is impossible to sum up such a contribution."—Jerry Dennerline, International History Review

"Throughout the volume, Struve's translations capture the different voices of the cataclysm. Students of Chinese history will find a wealth of information here."—Choice

"These vivid contemporaneous accounts of the seventeenth-century conquest of China by the Manchus provide an ingenious breadth of perspective that will make them very compelling to students of the period."—Pamela Kyle Crossley, Dartmouth College

"Much more than a chronicle of horrors. . . . The book combines skillful translation of a rich variety of primary sources with authoritative commentary and meticulously researched annotation."—Helen Dunstan, The Historian

"The scholarship behind this work is impeccable. . . The translations are all important contributions to the field. . . This book presents the voices mediated only by the translation itself and leaves interpretation to the actors. . . . It is impossible to sum up such a contribution."—Jerry Dennerline, Reviews of Books

"Struve [is] the most knowledgeable American scholar of the history of the 'Southern Ming'. . . . This fascinating volume. . . can be readily used in any college course on late imperial Chinese history for wonderful examples of the personal experiences of the Chinese people living through the fall of the Ming dynasty to their Manchu conquerors. . . . Struve's materials allow a teacher to introduce a range of 'voices' from the seventeenth century that students can readily understand and relate to. For both teachers and students, then, this is a welcome volume."—Benjamin A. Elman, China Review International

"This innovative volume of over 15 translated contemporary accounts of the 'cataclysm' surrounding the Qing conquest combines her unparalleled knowledge of these sources with meticulous annotation and writing of real flair to produce one of the most engaging works of scholarship to appear in the field for a long time. . . . A gripping introduction to the Ming-Qing transition for students, it is also a volume which will teach everyone working in the field things they did not know, and ought to send them racing to consult the original texts. . . . An extraordinarily good book destined to be read and enjoyed by a very wide audience beyond the professional one."—Craig Clunas, Bulletin of SOAS

"Lynn Struve sheds further light on what it meant to be Chinese in the seventeenth century, showing that for many it was far from pleasant. . . . It is a book that brings history graphically to life."—Keith Pratt, Asian Affairs

"Voices from the Ming-Qing Cataclysm is not only a very useful companion to the other studies of the period, but it also stands on its own as a fascinating view of the dynamics of change in China."—Jonathan Porter, History

"Voices from the Ming-Qing Cataclysm fleshes out the bones of history with fifteen chapters that include first-hand accounts by eye-witnesses, contemporary commentary and a variety of relevant evidence from those involved in the devastating events that racked China in the seventeenth century. . . . The whole is very well put together."—Ian McMorran, Journal of Oriental Studies

"This is an excellent collection of very vivid first-hand accounts, superbly translated."—Robert Entenmann, St. Olaf College

"The 'voices' in this book—a Qing viceroy, an artist, an empress, a merchant, a widow who became the consort of an invading prince, and others—offer history at the individual level and give a real sense of the turmoil of the times."—Washington Post Book World

"The readings are lively and often dramatically exciting, and make this volume not only of interest to scholars but also of value as a resource for drawing students into the immediacy of history through the records of the lived experience of real people."—Kenneth Hammond, China Review International 

ISBN: 9780300056792
Publication Date: July 28, 1993
352 pages, 6 1/8 x 9 1/4
29 b/w illus.