Beyond the Heavenly Kingdom


Beyond the Heavenly Kingdom is the second book in a series set in the mid-nineteenth century and follows Tienkuo: The Heavenly Kingdom, which traced the lives of Jason Brandt; his wife, Black Jade; and his scholar friend Wu Sek-chong during the Chinese Civil War. In this second novel, Brandt and Black Jade travel from Shanghai to Boston in the years following the American Civil War. Americans of that era, increasingly anxious about competition from lower wage Chinese immigrants, demanded an end to all immigration from China, which culminated in the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882.

In this novel inspired by Mark Twain’s travel memoir Innocents Abroad, Brandt, a Shanghai-based American journalist, imagines writing a book that chronicles his own travels. He and Black Jade journey to Boston, where his father, a Christian missionary, lives. On the journey, Brandt and Black Jade learn of the Troy Female Seminary, a pioneering girls’ school in Upstate New York, and dream of opening a similar school in China. Along the way, they encounter actual historical figures—including President Grant, Mark Twain, and Senator Charles Sumner—as well as literary characters such as Phileas Fogg.

Travel with them as they come to grips with a changing world that shares many parallels with our own.

About the Author

Steven Leibo, who writes fiction under the pen name of Li Bo, is a professor of modern international history at the Sage Colleges in New York. In addition, he is a research associate at the Fairbank Center on Chinese Studies at Harvard University. His honors include being named a Fulbright scholar and election to the National Committee on US-China Relations. He is the author of Tienkuo: The Heavenly Kingdom and Transferring Technology to China: Prosper Giquel and the Chinese Self-Strengthening Movement.