Help support TMP

"Good general history of the Taiping Rebellion?" Topic

21 Posts

All members in good standing are free to post here. Opinions expressed here are solely those of the posters, and have not been cleared with nor are they endorsed by The Miniatures Page.

Please do not post offers to buy and sell on the main forum.

For more information, see the TMP FAQ.

Back to the Historical Media Message Board

Back to the 19th Century Media Message Board

Areas of Interest

19th Century

Featured Hobby News Article

Featured Link

Featured Showcase Article

Elmer's Xtreme School Glue Stick

Is there finally a gluestick worth buying for paper modelers?

Featured Profile Article

15mm Battlefield in a Box: Bridges

Personal logo Editor in Chief Bill The Editor of TMP Fezian finds bridges to match the river sets.

Current Poll

2,085 hits since 13 Dec 2014
©1994-2024 Bill Armintrout
Comments or corrections?

Personal logo Mserafin Supporting Member of TMP13 Dec 2014 4:59 p.m. PST

As per the title. Has anyone run across a good general history of this war? I recently read "Forgotten Ally" about China in WW2 and it traces a lot of the country's problems in the 1930s back to this event. I've read a little bit about it and it sounds insane and fascinating.

Recommendations, please, ladies and gentlemen?

willthepiper13 Dec 2014 5:07 p.m. PST

Not quite a history, but Flashman and the Tiger will get you a little bit of the background and is more fun to read than most proper history books!

Skeptic13 Dec 2014 5:09 p.m. PST

You might start with these:

Jonathan Spence, God's Chinese Son: The Taiping Heavenly Kingdom of Hong Xiuquan (1996)

Stephen R. Platt. Autumn in the Heavenly Kingdom: China, the West, and the Epic Story of the Taiping Civil War. New York: Knopf, 2012

dbf167613 Dec 2014 5:10 p.m. PST

"Autumn in the Heavenly Kingdom" by Stephen R Platt.

dbf167613 Dec 2014 5:11 p.m. PST

Skeptic beat me to it!

Glengarry513 Dec 2014 5:16 p.m. PST

I just picked up "Autumn in the Heavenly Kingdom, China, the West and the epic story of the Taiping Rebellion"" by Stephen R. Platt which I admit have not yet read. I'm just finishing off a history of Haiti, I'm a glutton for tragedy. It says it puts the rebellion in a wider political context and comes with a gushing back cover blurb from Henry Kissinger! I would also recommend God's Chinese Son.,, and Flashman for that matter if only because it's a rip-roaring read!!

Personal logo lewis cannon Supporting Member of TMP13 Dec 2014 6:33 p.m. PST

Will the piper probably means Flashman and the Dragon. Contains some great descriptions of the imperial army.

Still politically incorrect after all these years! One has to ponder Flashies life following the events in Dragon, about 1860-1861.

willthepiper13 Dec 2014 6:48 p.m. PST

Will the piper probably means Flashman and the Dragon. Contains some great descriptions of the imperial army.

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon – so easy to confuse those two. 8^)

FreeportPirate13 Dec 2014 8:02 p.m. PST

God's Chinese Son is terrific.

Peachy rex13 Dec 2014 8:41 p.m. PST

It's not a general history, but "The Devil Soldier" – about Frederick Townsend Ward & the early days of the Ever Victorious Army – is fascinating. It doesn't have a ton on the Taipings themselves, but it deals in some detail with the Western powers & and the Imperial authorities, particularly those in and around Shanghai (in addition to all the material on Ward & the EVA.)

Prince Rupert of the Rhine13 Dec 2014 11:29 p.m. PST

Another vote for God's Chinese son also the foundry book on 19th century china has a bit about the military side and the uniforms of the era.


wyeayeman14 Dec 2014 8:45 a.m. PST

The history of the Taiping rebellion often gets lost in red tape because it lead to the Great Photocopying War which brought down the Post Room and led to the mass emigration of the filing clerks. Stationary tactics seem to have been the staple.

Personal logo The Virtual Armchair General Sponsoring Member of TMP14 Dec 2014 11:54 a.m. PST

I believe the best general history is "The Tai-Ping Revolutionary Movement" by Jen-Yu-Wen.

Unlike the other popular histories, this is a more nearly scholarly work by a native Chinese with access to resources completely inaccessible to most Western writers. The author made the "Pingers" his life's work, and the breadth and depth of his research is pretty well definitive.

At 616 pages, it's not a weekend read, but it is perhaps the most complete single volume on the subject.

The really bad news is that being OOP booksellers are asking a lot for copies. Abebooks has a listing of sources, the cheapest of which today is $52.46 USD,tpaid, while the prices jump sharply from there to $230.00 USD!

See for yourself via this link

You might also look for Tai-P'ing member and apologist, Augustus Lindley's "Ti-ping Tien-Kwoh: The History of The Ti-ping Revolution, Including a Narrative of the Author's Personal Experiences." Probably this two-volume work is an Inter-Library loan project. I've not seen it, but this might be a great source of battle details, though I'd be leery of Lindley's sympathies.

But you said you wanted an introductory read, so try the Osprey title, Men-at-Arms 275 "The Taiping Rebellion 1851-66." It's also available quite affordably via this link

An amazing, if horrific, conflict that beggars the imagination for sheer depravity and waste of life and resources.

And, yeah, we hope to produce the dedicated rules set, in time….


Personal logo The Virtual Armchair General Sponsoring Member of TMP14 Dec 2014 11:55 a.m. PST

To Wyeayeman,

Please go stand in the corner for fifteen minutes and think about how bad a citizen you were!


(Still groaning….)

wyeayeman14 Dec 2014 12:12 p.m. PST

You are most welcome!
I really couldn't help myself…

15th Hussar14 Dec 2014 3:06 p.m. PST

We of the Secretariat salute Wyeayeman for adding to our illustrious files.

Personal logo Mserafin Supporting Member of TMP14 Dec 2014 4:25 p.m. PST

Not quite a history, but Flashman and the Tiger will get you a little bit of the background and is more fun to read than most proper history books!

Ooh, we've read that one, Will, and all the others (including Dragon, which I read on an Air France flight from Paris to Seattle). But now you've got me wondering if it isn't time to re-read them all…

Who am I kidding? It's always a good time to read Flashie!

Personal logo Mserafin Supporting Member of TMP14 Dec 2014 4:26 p.m. PST

Thank you for the recommendations, gentlemen!


boy wundyr x15 Dec 2014 8:22 a.m. PST

The Platt book was in the discount section of my local big box book store (in Canada) a few weeks ago, picked it up for $6 USD-10.

Gary Flack17 Dec 2014 6:55 a.m. PST

Melvyn Bragg did an In our Time Podcast for the BBC on it
and then scroll down to 24th Feb
sorry I can't do a better link but I'm banned from the site at work and am working off a phone for the link
Might be a tad basic for you but it's only 40 odd mins so might be worth a listen
[the bad news is there are hordes of others on there to distract you …]

Personal logo Mserafin Supporting Member of TMP18 Jan 2015 4:58 p.m. PST

[the bad news is there are hordes of others on there to distract you …]

And this is bad news how?

Thanks for the link!

Found "Autumn in the Kingdom…" at 1/2 price books, it's competing with a book on US Lend-Lease to Russia at the moment.

Sorry - only verified members can post on the forums.