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266 China Review International: Vol. 1, No. 2, Fall 1994 This collection is recommended to nonspecialists, who will enjoy Spence's lucid and unpedantic style. This does not preclude specialists from its audience, however. On the contrary, they will be stimulated and inspired by Spence's thoughtful comments on a wide range of topics. Lily Xiao Hong Lee University of Sydney Lynn A. Struve, editor and translator. Voicesfrom the Ming-Qing Cataclysm. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1992. 303 pp. Beginning with an eyewitness account of the fall of the Ming dynasty capital Beijing to Li Zicheng's rebel forces in 1643 ("A Survivor of Beijing 'Settles His Thoughts'") and ending with a eunuch servant's recollections of the tragic last days of the "Southern Ming"Yongli imperial court in Myanmar (Burma) in 1661 (" 'There Was Only Me': A Boy Eunuch Sees the Bitter End"), Lynn Struve has translated and edited for this book a poignant record of the fall of the Ming dynasty in the middle of the tumultuous seventeenth century. In between the events of 1643 and 1661, Struve includes thirteen other personal accounts of the desperation and heroism that marked the times, which in her brief introduction she describes as efforts at "self-justification or self-vindication." The accounts Struve interweaves in her overall depiction of the last years of the Ming dynasty certainly describe the cultural resources that sustained people in such a time of crisis, and, as Struve suggests, the chapters can be read as "prime materials for a cultural history of self-justification." But they are more than that. Drawing on views from men, women, Mandarins, Jesuits, Dutch officials, orphans , merchants, artists, and eunuchs, Struve's cast of "voices" is not drawn from the usual stodgy biographies of Chinese loyalists or from the studies of important Confucian intellectuals during the Ming-Qing transition. Rather, she has allowed a remarkable set of "high and low" characters from a variety of social stations to represent the last days of the Ming. In the process, we are presented with a diverse historical record that draws less from orthodox dynastic history and more from popular history, family letters, official memorials, self-serving reports, and self-© ¡994 by University righteous memoirs (particularly the famous memoir of the massacre ofYangzhou ofHawai'i Pressin 1645, "Horrid Beyond Description," in chapter 2). In two noteworthy chapters, Struve deftly weaves together different accounts to present the reader with a fascinating "divided window" on contemporary per- Reviews 267 spectives of the same historical event. In chapter 4 (" 'The Emperor Really Has Left': Nanjing Changes Hands"), we can compare Yao Wenxi's jaded attitude toward Ming authority expressed in his Mingji riji (Dailyjottings from the end of the Ming), which included a nervous curiosity toward the new Manchu-Qing leaders, with the detailed observations of Johann Nieuhof, secretary to an embassy of officers from the Dutch East India Company, who recorded events in Nanjing in the 1650s and noted how the devastation in fhe countryside that still remained contrasted sharply with the commercial revival in the city itself. Similarly, in chapter 13 ("Under the 'Blood-Aag': Dutch and Chinese Views of the Battle for Taiwan"), Struve presents a fascinating account of the 1661 tug of war over competing claims to Taiwan /Formosa between the retreating Ming loyalist rebel Zheng Chenggong ("Koxinga"), who decided to move his naval Aeet from Fujian to the safe harbor of"Tai-wan" ("Terrace Bay," near present-day Tainan; this subsequently became the Chinese name for the entire island), and the Dutch East India Company, which had established a trading colony and fort at Castle Zeelandia (on "Terrace Bay") since the 1620s and claimed all of"Formosa." As we move back and forth between the Zheng Chenggong perspective prepared by Yang Ying, Zheng's revenue officer, and the Dutch view prepared by the governor of the Dutch colony, Frederik Coyet, we are witness to a remarkable sideshow to the fall offhe Ming dynasty and fhe rise ofthe Manchus wherein Zheng's capture of Taiwan and his expulsion of the Dutch was fortuitous for subsequent Qing claims to the island and disastrous for the history of Dutch imperialism in the South China...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1527-9367
Print ISSN
1069-5834
Pages
pp. 266-268
Launched on MUSE
2011-03-30
Open Access
No
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