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Re: Hong Xiuquan
I read Chinese History written by western authors. As a result, you may say
that I am biased. However, I think the scholastic western mentality tends to
be more objective. This is not an exclusive Chinese weakness, but the Chinese
do not often present things as they are. One good example is Chinese
paintings. The west tries to reproduce reality whereas the Chinese
conceptualises. Similarly, the written Chinese History is adulterated with
myths, facts, half-truths and blatant lies. Each successive dynasties rewrote
history to suit themselves.
The modern Chinese History, i.e. last 150 years, there are collaborative
western records. There are non-Chinese records of people like Chiang Kaishek,
Hong Xiuquan and Sun Yatsen. Of course, the west was the aggressor during this
time frame, but records kept by western travellers, priests, etc probably
contained little or no ulterior motives.
My understanding of Hong is from the book by Jonathan Spence, "God's Chinese
Son". I would be interested to know what you and other readers who are better
versed in Chinese History think of Hong's portrayal in this book.
In "The Soong Dynasty" by Sterling Seagrave, Sun Yatsen was portrayed as a
naive opportunist who somehow managed to evade capture while his collaborators
lost their heads left, right and centre. The KMT idealised Sun and Chiang such
that they are whiter than white. Afterall, heros are needed to inspire.