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In 1898 an Englishman walked into a homosexual brothel in Peking and began a journey that he claims took him all the way to the bedchamber of imperial China's last great ruler, the Empress Dowager Tz'u Hsi.
The man was Edmund Backhouse, and his controversial memoirs, Decadence Mandchoue, were published for the first time by Earnshaw Books in 2011.
This edition, renamed Manchu Decadence, is abridged and unexpurgated, meaning that it focuses on the most extraordinary and valuable elements of Backhouse's narrative.
Backhouse's book provides a unique and shocking glimpse into the hidden world of China's imperial palace, with its rampant corruption, grand conspiracies and uninhibited sexuality.
This book, written shortly before the author's death, lay for decades forgotten in the Bodleian Library at Oxford University.
Shocking, lyrical and highly controversial, it is the masterwork of a linguistic genius, a tremendous literary achievement as well as a sensational account of the inner workings of the Manchu court.
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