An impossibly rare book containing direct accounts of the mid-19th century Taiping Rebellion in China. Any and all accounts of this massive upheaval that killed millions of people are very rare.
Excerpt from Chapter 1:
You are foreigners, not knowing our land of China or its customs, and I do not know how to set about my task. That task is to tell the story of ten years of my life, during which sons of Han were slaughtered by sons of Han, whole provinces were devastated, and thousands of myriads of human beings perished by the sword, by famine, and by disease. I cannot tell the whole tale. I saw but little of it. And even in telling what fell under my own eyes looking over the skirts of the misery, I am confronted by a difficulty. I have learned something of your Western outlook, and I know that many customs which are a matter of course to us, require much explanation to make them intelligible to you, even as many of your customs seem to our people strange and void of reason. Should I then explain as I go along? You would quickly cast the book aside, and never look at its later pages. Should I let our ways speak for themselves? I must then crave your indulgence. and beg you to believe that we follow our customs, handed down through four thousand years of history, because we believe them to be the best. So now to my tale.