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Empress Dowager Cixi: The Concubine Who Launched Modern China by Jung Chang. Biography based on newly available, mostly Chinese, historical documents. At age 16, Cixi became one of the emperor's numerous concubines. When he died in 1861, their five-year-old son succeeded to the throne, but Cixi made herself the real ruler of China. She abolished gruesome punishments, introduced parliamentary elections, and turned China into a modern state.
The Last Empress: The She-Dragon of China by Keith Laidler. A biography of Tzu Hsi, whom the author presents as a victim of the corrupt system that taught her to be savage.
Dragon Lady: The Life and Legend of the Last Empress of China by Sterling Seagrave and Peggy Seagrave. This 1993 biography seeks to correct myths about the life and character of the dowager empress. It presents her not as a villain but as the pawn of other, more powerful people.
Empress Dowager Cixi by X. L. Woo. About China's last dynasty and the long reign of a formidable empress.
The Empress and Mrs. Conger: The Uncommon Friendship of Two Women and Two Worlds by Grant Hayter-Menzies. Using diaries, letters and other sources, this book traces the parallel lives of China's Empress Dowager Cixi and American ambassador's wife Sarah Pike Conger.
With the Empress Dowager of China by Katherine A. Carl. The author, an American painter who painted Tzu Hsi's portrait in 1903, describes the empress's palace, court, and more. First published in 1905.
The Last Great Empress of China by Charlotte Haldane. A 1965 biography of Tzu Hsi. Out of print, but available from Alibris.
The Dragon Empress by Marina Warner is a 1972 biography of Tzu Hsi. From Alibris.
Women Who Ruled by Guida M. Jackson is about female leaders, including Tzu Hsi (who is pictured on the cover).
Imperial Masquerade: The Legend of Princess Der Ling by Grant Hayter-Menzies. The first biography of Princess Der Ling. Daughter of a Manchu aristocrat and granddaughter of a Boston merchant, Der Ling was also lady-in-waiting to China's Dowager Empress Cixi, a woman she lionized but ultimately betrayed. The book includes never-before-seen photographs.
Old Buddha by Princess Der Ling. Written by the first lady-in-waiting to Empress Dowager Tzu Hsi (who was nicknamed Old Buddha).
Two Years in the Forbidden City by Princess Der Ling. The princess's account of life in Tzu Hsi's court. Published in 1911. Available from Alibris.
Empress Orchid: A Novel by Anchee Min. Fictional account of the life of Empress Tzu Hsi, the concubine who rose to become ruler of China.
The Last Empress by Anchee Min. This sequel to Empress Orchid tells the story of Orchid's transition from a strong-willed young woman to a wise and politically savvy leader.
Dragon of Heaven: The Memoirs of the Last Empress of China by David Bouchard, illustrated by Zhong-Yang Huang. Historical fiction about the powerful dowager empress Cixi (Tzu Hsi).
History in Three Keys: The Boxers as Event, Experience, and Myth by Paul A. Cohen includes first-hand accounts from people who participated in and witnessed the Boxer Rebellion.
Entering China's Service: Robert Hart's Journals, 1854-1863 by Robert Hart and John King Fairbank, edited by Katherine F. Bruner and Richard J. Smith. The journals of Sir Robert Hart, who worked in China and met Tzu Hsi. Followed by Robert Hart and China's Early Modernization: His Journals, 1863-1866.
The Opium War Through Chinese Eyes by Arthur Waley. The Opium War took place between 1839 and 1842. China had outlawed the import of opium, but was finally forced by the British to allow it. Tzu Hsi banned opium at the end of her reign.
The Opium Wars: The Addiction of One Empire and the Corruption of Another by W. Travis Hanes III and Frank Sanello. About British importation of opium into China in the 19th and 20th centuries.
Hidden Power: The Palace Eunuchs of Imperial China by Mary M. Anderson covers the lives of prominent eunuchs from different times in Chinese history.
Cixi: The Dragon Empress by Natasha Yim, illustrated by Peter Malone. A biography of China's last empress and a look at her daily life. For children ages 9 to 12.
Cixi: Evil Empress of China? by Sean Stewart Price. Biography for young adult readers from the Wicked History series.
The Lover of the Last Empress. 1994 Chinese erotic drama based on Tzu Hsi's life. Formatted for North American audiences.