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  • A detail of the defensive wall that envelops Nanjing, China

Waging War: Autumn in the Heavenly Kingdom

The image above reveals a detail of the defensive wall that envelops Nanjing, the rebel capital during the Taiping Rebellion of 1850-1864. The wall stands 60 feet high and at 23 miles long completely surrounds the city. Much of it is still preserved, and you can stand there and imagine yourself looking out towards the trenches where the imperial siege forces camped during their brutal two-year battle for Nanjing in 1862-1864, the culmination of the bloodiest civil war in human history. UMass Amherst historian and China expert Stephen Platt tells the story in his book Autumn in the Heavenly Kingdom: China, the West and the Epic Story of the Taiping Civil War, awarded the prestigious 2012 Cundill Prize. Learn more.

Photo credit: Stephen Platt