One can certainly find many more current and more scholarly studies on the Boxer Rebellion. For a work written in 1959, however, Fleming's treatment of China's reaction to European imperialism is remarkably sympathetic and balanced. Moreover it's a great read so far as military history goes. The book's one bothersome issue is giving a number of quotes in French without offering translations. The narration is a perfect match for the subject.
This is Ball's first novel, but I read Ironfire first. The characters and plots of Ironfire and Empires are largely one and the same, different only in detail. Good reads as historical fiction and the facts are accuate. The characters are rather stock and lack complexity. Ball seems to have it in for the Catholic Church. Priests and nuns have nothing better to do than engage in self-serving or sadistic activity.
This book falls between historical fiction and biography. It is not entirely successful as either. Lodge sets out to tell us of the life and literature of H.G. Wells drawing on his published works, letters and biographies. Lodge warns us he uses literary license when depicting Wells' private conversations particularly with the myriad of lovers he enticed to his bed. The work, however, reads so much like scholarly biography at times that the reader has difficulty knowing if these love affairs are fact or fiction.
Lodge is at his best when focusing on the literary criticism of Wells' works or the evolution of his political philosophy. The book, however, becomes tedious as Lodge focuses on one torrid sexual exploit after another. In this respect, Lodge's H.G. Wells hardly comes off in a favorable light. Half way through I was thinking, " Okay, I get it, H.G. could not keep it in his pants." Readers will get their fill of sex in this book, but might scratch their heads wondering why some of Well's most famous works such as War of the Worlds and the Time Machine receive only a page or two .
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