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Royalty in China

The First Emperor of China, Shi Huangdi
The Last Emperor of China, P'u Yi
Dowager Empress Tzu Hsi (Cixi)

Books About Chinese Royalty

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Book Categories: History, Yellow Emperor, Shi Huangdi, DVDs, Ancient China, Great Wall, Palaces, Qin and Han, Terracotta Army, Three Kingdoms, Medieval China, Sui and Tang, Empress Wu, Song, Yuan, Ming, Manchu, Qing, Qianlong, Cixi, Last Emperor, Tibet, King Gesar, Western Xia, Children's Books

Chinese Royalty

Chronicle of the Chinese Emperors by Ann Paludan. A reign-by-reign record of the rulers of imperial China, from legendary first emperor Qin Shihuangdi to the last emperor in the 20th century. Includes maps, timelines, and special features on everything from the Great Wall to the Boxer Rebellion.

China's Imperial Past by Charles O. Hucker. An introduction to Chinese history and culture.

Imperial China: 900-1800 by F. W. Mote. Highlights the personal characteristics of China's rulers and dynasties in the vast panorama of the largest society in human history.

Imperial China, 617-1644 edited by Guangqiu Xu.

The Rising Sons: China's Imperial Succession & the Art of War by Ian Huen. How nine princes of the Qin to Qing dynasties rose to power through psychological warfare.

Emperors' Treasures: Chinese Art From the National Palace Museum, Taipei by Jay Xu and Li He. How eight Chinese rulers who reigned from the early 12th through early 20th centuries contributed to the arts.

Speaking to History: The Story of King Goujian in Twentieth-Century China by Paul A. Cohen. Examines why people are drawn to the story of King Goujian, a psychologically complex 5th century BC monarch.

Women in Imperial History

Women Shall Not Rule: Imperial Wives and Concubines in China from Han to Liao by Keith McMahon. Chinese emperors took multiple wives, in some cases hundreds and even thousands. This book examines the intrigue and scandal among rival wives.

Celestial Women: Imperial Wives and Concubines in China From Song to Qing by Keith McMahon. Follows the strong and active women, of both high and low rank, who counseled emperors, ghostwrote for them, and dominated them when they were weak.

General Chinese History

The Cambridge Illustrated History of China by Patricia Buckley Ebrey. This sumptuously illustrated single-volume history traces the origins of Chinese culture from prehistoric times to the present.

A Concise History of China by J. A. G. Roberts. Leads the reader through Chinese history in 300 pages, adding sufficient detail and anecdote to provide color and texture. Includes 10 maps. (Review © Amazon.com)

The Story of China: The Epic History of a World Power From the Middle Kingdom to Mao and the China Dream by Michael Wood. Taking into account new archeological discoveries, this book begins with China's early dynasties.

China: Its History and Culture by W. Scott Morton. An introduction to Chinese history.

Ancient China

The Cambridge History of Ancient China edited by Michael Loewe and Edward L. Shaughnessy. Fourteen leading specialists on early China cover more than 1000 years of history.

Records of the Grand Historian by Sima Qian. The author, who died around 9 BC, was the first major Chinese historian. He documented the history of China and neighboring countries from the ancient past to his own time.

Empresses and Consorts: Selections From Chen Shou's Records of the Three States With Pei Songzhi's Commentary by Chen Shou, Robert Joe Cutter, William Gordon Crowell, and Pei Songzhi. A critical overview of developments affecting palace women from earliest times to the Han dynasty.

The Yellow Emperor

The Yellow Emperor's Classic of Medicine by Maoshing Ni. A new translation of the Neijing Suwen, an ancient Chinese text on medicine and Taoism said to have been written by the Yellow Emperor himself.

The Complete Tao Te Ching With the Four Canons of the Yellow Emperor edited by Jean Levi. The long-lost the Four Canons of ancient China's legendary Yellow Emperor. Topics include the art of ruling, metaphysics, military matters, and meditation.

More Books About the Yellow Emperor

The Qin (Ch'in) and Han Empires

Books About the Qin Dynasty

The Empress in the Pepper Chamber: Zhao Feiyan in History and Fiction by Olivia Milburn. After political enemies forced Empress Zhao Feiyan (45-1 BCE) to commit suicide, her reputation was marred by accusations of murder and promiscuity. This study includes an erotic novella about the imperial harem.

Modeling Peace: Royal Tombs and Political Ideology in Early China by Jie Shi. The Mancheng site features burials of the first king and queen of the Zhongshan kingdom (second century BC).

Divination, Mythology and Monarchy in Han China by Michael Loewe. Covers 206 B.C. to 220 A.D.

The Great Wall & Imperial Palaces

Books About the Great Wall of China
Books About the Forbidden City and Other Palaces

The Three Kingdoms

The Romance of the Three Kingdoms by Luo Guanzhong (Lo Kuan-chung), translated by Moss Roberts. A classic 14th century Chinese novel about the battles between the Three Kingdoms for control of China in the 3rd century AD. This translation is unabridged.

Medieval China

Kingship in Early Medieval China by Andrew Eisenberg. The institution of the Retired Emperor and Classical Chinese political history (4th to 7th centuries AD).

The Sui and Tang (T'ang) Dynasties

The Cambridge History of China: Sui and T'Ang China, 589-906 (Vol 3 Part 1) edited by Denis C. Twitchett.

Emperor Yang of the Sui Dynasty: His Life, Times, and Legacy by Victor Cunril Xiong. Presents a reappraisal of the Chinese emperor, whose legacy provided the foundation for the celebrated civilization of the Tang dynasty.

China's Southern Tang Dynasty, 937-976 by Johannes L. Kurz. The Southern Tang was one of China's minor dynasties and one of the great states in China in the tenth century.

From Warhorses to Ploughshares: The Later Tang Reign of Emperor Mingzong by Richard L. Davis. Drawing extensively on primary sources, including Mingzong's spirited correspondence with his officials, this political and cultural biography brings to life a charismatic emperor who was held up as a model ruler by succeeding generations.

The Poetics of Sovereignty: On Emperor Taizong of the Tang Dynasty by Jack W. Chen. Examines the literary writings of China's Emperor Taizong (r. 626-49), especially his poetry.

Imperial Tombs in Tang China, 618-907: The Politics of Paradise by Tonia Eckfeld. Looks at the religious, political, social, and artistic significance of the imperial tombs of the Tang dynasty.

Tang China and the Collapse of the Uighur Empire: A Documentary History by Michael R. Drompp. A reconstruction of the Tang dynasty's response to the fleeing of large numbers of Uighur refugees to China's northern frontier.

The Ruler's Guide: China's Greatest Emperor and His Timeless Secrets of Success by Chinghua Tang. Presents conversations between Chinese emperor Tang Taizong (598-649 AD) and his advisers on leadership.

Empress Wu

Daughter of Heaven: The True Story of The Only Woman to Become Emperor of China by Nigel Cawthorne. Empress Wu Zetian seduced her way to the throne, executed her enemies without mercy, murdered her own children for political gain, and reigned for over 50 years.

Wu: The Chinese Empress Who Schemed, Seduced and Murdered Her Way to Become a Living God by Jonathan Clements. Born in the 7th century, Wu Zetian was the daughter of a lumber merchant. Her beauty and steely determination helped her become China's only reigning empress.

Wu Zhao: China's Only Female Emperor by N. Harry Rothschild. Biography of Wu Zhao, who improbably rose from a fifth-ranked concubine to become emperor.

Empress Wu the Great, Tang Dynasty China by X. L. Woo. Biography of Wu Zetian (624-705), the only female sovereign to rule in her own name during all of Chinese history.

The Woman Who Discovered Printing by T. H. Barrett. Explores why Empress Wu (AD 625-705) was interested in printing, and why its introduction had less immediate impact in China than it did in Europe centuries later.

Emperor Wu Zhao and Her Pantheon of Devis, Divinities, and Dynastic Mothers by N. Harry Rothschild. China's Empress Wu built a pantheon of female divinities and cast herself as the human vessel through which their energy flowed.

Empress of China: Wu Ze Tian by Cheng-An Chiang, illustrated by Xu De Yuan. This children's book tells the true story of the 7th century woman who ruled China.


Empress by Evelyn B. McCune. Popular novel about Empress Wu, the only woman to rule China in her own right.

Empress: A Novel by Shan Sa. Fictional account of the life of Empress Wu, China's only female emperor, who emerged in the seventh century during the great Tang Dynasty and ushered in a golden age.

The Moon in the Palace by Weina Dai Randel. Novel about the intelligent young concubine who became China's Empress Wu. Followed by a sequel, The Empress of Bright Moon.

The Song (Sung) Dynasty

Branches of Heaven: A History of the Imperial Clan of Sung China by John W. Chaffee. This dynasty ruled China from 960 to 1279.

Ten States, Five Dynasties, One Great Emperor by Hung Hing Ming. How Emperor Zhao Kuang Yin (Taizu) unified China in the Song Dynasty.

Emperor Huizong by Patricia Buckley Ebrey. The first comprehensive English-language biography of Huizong, who ascended the throne in 1100 AD. He guided the Song Dynasty toward cultural greatness, but lost the throne to Jurchen invaders and died their prisoner.

Emperor Huizong and Late Northern Song China: The Politics of Culture and the Culture of Politics edited by Patricia Buckley Ebrey and Maggie Bickford. Huizong was an exceptional emperor who wrote poetry and created his own calligraphy style. When Song proved unable to defend itself against the Jurchen state of Jin, Huizong and thousands of members of his family and court were taken captive, and the Song dynasty had to recreate itself in the South.

Empresses, Art, and Agency in Song Dynasty China by Hui-shu Lee. The critical role emperors' wives played as patrons, collectors, taste-makers, and artists during the three-century Song dynasty (960-1279).

Accumulating Culture: The Collections of Emperor Huizong by Patricia Buckley Ebrey. A study of the art collections of China's Emperor Huizong (1082-1135).

The Yuan (Mongol) Dynasty

Books About the Mongolian Empire

The Ming Dynasty

The Cambridge History of China: The Ming Dynasty, 1368-1644, Part I edited by Frederick W. Mote and Denis Twitchett.

A Tale of Two Melons: Emperor and Subject in Ming China by Sarah Schneewind. An introduction to Ming society, culture, and politics, including the founding of the dynasty and the role of omens at court.

Zhu Yuanzhang and Early Ming Legislation: The Reordering of Chinese Society Following the Era of Mongol Rule edited by Edward L. Farmer. Zhu Yuanzhang was born a peasant and rose to be the first Ming emperor.

Perpetual Happiness: The Ming Emperor Yongle by Shih-Shan Henry Tsai. Biography of a 15th century Chinese emperor.

What the Emperor Built: Architecture and Empire in the Early Ming by Aurelia Campbell. How how the palaces and temples of the Yongle emperor helped legitimize his usurpation of power.

The Empress and the Heavenly Masters: A Study of the Ordination Scroll of Empress Zhang (1493) by Yu-ping Luk. This book builds a history of imperial ordinations and examines the influences of the Daoist leaders known as the Zhengyi Heavenly Masters.

Four Seasons: A Ming Emperor and His Grand Secretaries in Sixteenth-Century China by John W. Dardess. How Emperor Jiajing and his four successive grand secretaries managed affairs of state, drawing on the grand secretaries' personal writings.

1587, A Year of No Significance by Ray Huang is about Emperor Wan-li, who ruled China for 48 years.

A Dragon's Head and a Serpent's Tail: Ming China and the First Great East Asian War, 1592-1598 by Kenneth M. Swope. Japanese troops invaded Korea in May of 1592, and Korea's appeal to China's Emperor Wanli for assistance triggered a six-year war encompassing the whole region.

Screen of Kings: Royal Art and Power in Ming China by Craig Clunas. Examines the cultural role of the regional aristocracy -- relatives of the emperors -- in Ming dynasty China (1368-1644).

The Ming Prince and Daoism: Institutional Patronage of an Elite by Richard G. Wang. Explores the interaction between China's Ming princes and Daoist priests.

The Pirate King: Coxinga and the Fall of the Ming Dynasty by Jonathan Clements. The fantastic true story of an infamous pirate whose mother was a Japanese Samurai. He became the richest man in China and the king of Taiwan, and was made a god -- twice.


The Manchus by Pamela Kyle Crossley. The Manchus united and conquered the whole of China and Mongolia.

Orphan Warriors: Three Manchu Generations and the End of the Qing World by Pamela Kyle Crossley explores the lives of China's military bannermen.

Manchu Princess, Japanese Spy by Phyllis Birnbaum. Aisin Gioro Xianyu (1907-1948), called in Japanese Yoshiko Kawashima, was the daughter of a Manchu prince.

The Qing (Ching) Dynasty

Emperor of China: Self-Portrait of K'Ang-Hsi by Jonathan D. Spence uses original documents to tell the life story of Manchu emperor K'ang-Hsi, who ruled China from 1661 to 1772.

Empresses of China's Forbidden City, 1644-1912 edited by Daisy Yiyou Wang and Jan Stuart. This book features essays and over 100 works of art from the Palace Museum in Beijing.

Learning to Rule: Court Education and the Remaking of the Qing State, 1861-1912 by Daniel Barish. Explores debates about the education of the final three Qing emperors.

Treason by the Book by Jonathan D. Spence. The story of a conspiracy against the Qing dynasty in 1728.

The Last Emperors by Evelyn Sakakida Rawski is a social history of Qing imperial institutions.

Court and Art

China: The Three Emperors, 1662-1795 by Regina Krahl, Alfreda Murck, Evelyn Rawski, Jessica Rawson. Includes color photographs of more than 370 treasures, along with essays.

Where Dragon Veins Meet: The Kangxi Emperor and His Estate at Rehe by Stephen H. Whiteman. In 1702, the second Qing emperor ordered construction of a summer palace. Here he presided over banquets, entertainments, and gift giving.

Staging for the Emperors: A History of Qing Court Theatre, 1683-1923 by Liana Chen. Theatrical performance occupied a central place in the imperial household.

The Imperial Patronage of Labor Genre Paintings in Eighteenth-Century China by Roslyn Lee Hammers. Examines pictures and poems about tilling and weaving commissioned by Chinese emperors.

Emperor Qianlong

Emperor Qianlong: Son of Heaven, Man of the World by Mark Elliott. Biography of the Manchu emperor Qianlong (1711-1799),who helped build the foundation of the modern Chinese nation.

Gardens of a Chinese Emperor: Imperial Creations of the Qianlong Era, 1739-1796 by Victoria M. Siu. The Garden of Perfect Brightness (Yuanming Yuan) was the world's most elaborate garden in the 18th century. This book includes 62 color plates and 35 black and white photographs.

Emperor Qianlong's Hidden Treasures: Reconsidering the Collection of the Qing Imperial Household by Nicole T. C. Chiang. Argues that the famous Qianlong art collection was largely the product of many specialists at the court.

Imperial Secrets of Health and Longevity by Bob Flaws reveals the longevity secrets of the fourth Manchu emperor, Qian Long.

Books About Chinese Empress Cixi (Tzu Hsi)
Books About the Last Emperor of China

Eunuchs & the Qing Dynasty

Eunuch and Emperor in the Great Age of Qing Rule by Norman A. Kutcher. How eunuchs flourished despite restrictions imposed upon them by Qing emperors.

Inside the World of the Eunuch: A Social History of the Emperor's Servants in Qing China by Melissa Dale. Seeking more control over their lives, eunuchs repeatedly tested the boundaries of subservience to the emperor and his court.

Modern China

The Search for Modern China by Jonathan D. Spence. A thorough history of China from the days of the Manchus.

The Rise of Modern China by Immanuel C. Y. Hsu. Covers China's history from the origins of the Ching empire to recent times.

After Empire: The Conceptual Transformation of the Chinese State, 1885-1924 by Peter Zarrow. After over 2,000 years of monarchical rule, the Chinese people suddenly stopped believing in the emperor. What made this possible?

A Translucent Mirror: History and Identity in Qing Imperial Ideology by Pamela Kyle Crossley. Examines Qing emperorship, the evolution of concepts of ethnicity, and the legacy of Qing rule for modern Chinese nationalism.

Books About Tibet

Demystifying Tibet: Unlocking the Secrets of the Land of the Snows by Lee Feigon. An authoritative view of the history and culture of Tibet.

So Close to Heaven: The Vanishing Buddhist Kingdoms of the Himalayas by Barbara Crossette is about Bhutan and the neighboring kingdoms of Ladakh, Sikkim and Tibet.

The Clear Mirror: A Traditional Account of Tibet's Golden Age by Sakyapa Sonam Gyaltsen. A rich blend of history, legend, poetry, adventure, romance, and royal genealogy.

The Tombs of Tibetan Kings by Giuseppe Tucci. Details the structural, aesthetic and symbolic characteristics of ancient Tibetan royal tombs.

The Tibetan Empire in Central Asia by Christopher I. Beckwith. This narrative history of the Tibetan Empire from about A.D. 600 to 866 explains Tibet's role in the conflict over Central Asia.

The Dalai Lama and the Emperor of China: A Political History of the Tibetan Institution of Reincarnation by Peter Schwieger. The evolution of Tibetan Buddhism's trülku (reincarnation) tradition from the 17th to the 19th centuries, and the emperor of China's efforts to control its development.

History of Tibet - Three-Volume Set by Alex McKay, Janette Jenkins. The history of Tibet from the pre-10th through the mid-20th centuries. Includes maps and illustrations.

Tibetan Histories: A Bibliography of Tibetan-Language Historical Works by Dan Martin.

Tibetan King Gesar

The Song of King Gesar: A Novel by Alai, translated by Howard Goldblatt and Sylvia Li-chun Lin. An English translation of Tibet's founding myth, written by a winner of the Mao Dun Prize, China's top literary award.

The Superhuman Life of Gesar of Ling by Alexandra David-Neel and Lama Yongden. Translated by Violet Sydney. Describes the life of King Gesar and recounts his battles and magical adventures. Alexandra David-Neel was a French explorer who traveled to Tibet in the 1920s.

The Warrior Song of King Gesar by Douglas J. Penick. The legendary King Gesar of Ling is a the subject of an ancient Central Asian epic poem. This is a modern version of the king's heroic saga.

Modern Tibet

Freedom in Exile by the 14th Dalai Lama. In this astonishingly frank autobiography, the Dalai Lama reveals the inner strength that allowed him to master both the mysteries of Tibetan Buddhism and the brutal realities of Chinese Communism.

My Tibet by the Dalai Lama, photographs by Galen Rowell. Essays by the Fourteenth Dalai Lama appear with Galen Rowell's dramatic images in a moving presentation of the splendors of Tibet's revered but threatened heritage.

A History of Modern Tibet, 1913-1951: The Demise of the Lamaist State by Melvyn C. Goldstein. This non-partisan study of modern Tibetan history draws on diplomatic records, written accounts, and extensive interviews.

Books About the Dalai Lamas
Books About Tibetan Palaces

Western Xia

My Life as Emperor by Su Tong. Novel about an 11th century emperor of the Western Xia kingdom in China.

Children's Books About China and Tibet

Han Wu Di by Miriam Greenblatt. Biography of Chinese emperor Wu of Han, who reigned from 141 BC to 87 BC. For children ages 9 to 12.

What Was It Like, Mr. Emperor? by Chiu Kwong-chiu, translated by Ben Wang. A look at life in China's Forbidden City, including how an emperor was chosen, what his school was like, and who his friends were.

Hero of the Land of Snow translated by Sylvia Gretchen, illustrations by Julia Witwer. Recounts the Tibetan myth about the magical birth and heroic exploits of King Gesar.

Secret of the Healing Treasures translated by Sylvia Gretchen, illustrations by Julia Witwer. Young King Gesar frees an enslaved kingdom from evil magicians.

Children's Books About Empress Cixi

Movies and Documentaries

DVDs About China's First Emperor
Movie About Empress Tzu Hsi
Movie About the Last Emperor of China
More Royal Movies and Documentaries

Video Games About Chinese History

Romance of the Three Kingdoms. Playstation and Nintendo games based on Chinese history.

More Games About Ancient China

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