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Publisher's Summary

Stephen R. Platt is widely respected for his incisive nonfiction, particularly in regard to his knowledge and understanding of China. With Autumn in the Heavenly Kingdom, Platt details the absorbing narrative of the Taiping Rebellion, which resulted in the loss of 20 million lives. Occurring in the 1850s, this is the story of a cultural movement characterized by intriguing personages such as influential military strategist Zeng Guofan and brilliant Taiping leader Hong Rengan.

©2012 Stephen R. Platt (P)2011 Recorded Books, LLC

Critic Reviews

“China’s brutal Taiping Civil War erupted in the 1850s and raged until the fall of rebel-held Nanjing in 1864. The bloodbath paralleled our own North-South conflict, but dwarfed it in terms of casualties, geography and global fallout . . . [Platt] juxtaposes the competing ideologies and leaders of the ruling Manchu Qing dynasty and the Hunan Taiping rebels with savvy and assurance. By neatly folding in the machinations of the British, Platt paints a picture of combat dire enough to have choked the Yangtze’s flow several times with discarded victims.” (Jonathan E. Lazarus, Newark Star-Ledger)
“Splendid . . . An upheaval that led to the deaths of 20 million, dwarfing the simultaneously fought American Civil War, deserves to be better known, and Platt accomplishes this with a superb history of a 19th-century China faced with internal disorder and predatory Western intrusions.” (Publishers Weekly, Starred Review)
“Stephen Platt brings to vivid life a pivotal chapter in China’s history that has been all but forgotten: the Taiping Rebellion in the mid-nineteenth century, which cost one of the greatest losses of life of any war in history. It had far-reaching consequences that still reverberate in contemporary China. Autumn in the Heavenly Kingdom is a fascinating work by a first-class historian and superb writer.” (Henry Kissinger)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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InTOLerable Reader

Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

The book was fascinating. An interesting description of a little known (in the west) period of chinese history.

Who would you have cast as narrator instead of Angela Lin?

Almost anyone, I think. Ms. Lin puts a heavy, portentous emphasis on almost every other word. It's intolerable, and it makes the book pretty much unlistenable. The READING DESTROYS all PLEASURE in the BOOK. You get the point.

If this book were a movie would you go see it?

Yes.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

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Painful to listen

This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

I could not get more than a couple of chapters into this. The narrator is truly awful, and makes the entire book unlistenable. It's a shame, because the subject is very interesting.\

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Shocking epic retelling of bloodiest civil war in human history

18 hr retelling of taiping uprising and concurrent second opium war. Worth the time in its timeless lessons of statecraft, treachery, and neocolonial dim grey boundaries between duty, honor, and humanity of naive Western powers playing the great game in the midst of a foggy, faraway quagmire.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story
  • Noah
  • New York, New York
  • 03-10-14

A real-life story of the apocalypse

What did you love best about Autumn in the Heavenly Kingdom?

The humanization of the characters, the apocalyptic visions of the last days of the Chinese empire, and the feeling of immersion and immediacy.

Which scene was your favorite?

The first scene, where the British gunboats break into the Chinese river, and the Chinese peasants bow down to them and worship them. That set the tone for the whole book.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

The end of the rebellion is extremely sad.

Any additional comments?

There are a few really apocalyptic wars that humans have managed to document - the World Wars, the Thirty Years War, the Russian and Chinese Civil Wars...and the Taiping Rebellion. If you want to read about cataclysmic, world-shattering wars, include this book in your reading series.

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It's a terrible book

What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

it is an experience with no stars, but no star is not an option

What could Stephen R. Platt have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

It's narrated with an unappealing voice. The content glorifies colonialism. It is overall a terrible experience.

Who would you have cast as narrator instead of Angela Lin?

How about find a person who like to bully other people? The world is in no shortage of such kind of people

You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

No.

Any additional comments?

It is a terrible book, especially with its gloating about colonialism. It actually blamed brutalities on the French to make the British sound like virtuous colonists.

0 of 3 people found this review helpful

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I just want to give a star rating. If you force me

Where does Autumn in the Heavenly Kingdom rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

I just want to give a star rating. If you force me to say more, I will give you this tripe.

What was one of the most memorable moments of Autumn in the Heavenly Kingdom?

I just want to give a star rating. If you force me to say more, I will give you this tripe.

Which character – as performed by Angela Lin – was your favorite?

I just want to give a star rating. If you force me to say more, I will give you this tripe.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

I just want to give a star rating. If you force me to say more, I will give you this tripe.

Any additional comments?

I just want to give a star rating. If you force me to say more, I will give you this tripe.

2 of 18 people found this review helpful