“I’m having a blast reading Tien Kuo. It is fascinating and well written.”
Ray Lum, former Asian Bibliographer at the Widener Library and Librarian for Western Languages at Harvard-Yenching Library
Tienkuo The Heavenly Kingdom
Jason Brandt is a young man who has been transplanted to Hong Kong via his father’s missionary work. The story begins in 1858 in an unstable situation, as a war is brewing. Invasion is on the horizon. Jason’s father is a reverend from New England who sees Jason’s future quite clearly in the United States, gaining an education in Ohio. Jason is eager to travel and work as a translator in Guangzhou. His father is firm in his denial of Jason’s wishes, so Jason rebels and “liberates” the money earmarked for his education. His knowledge of China is a boon for his trip into the Chinese interior. He meets and befriends a stranger named Wu, a castoff from the Chinese gentry. Wu becomes a tutor to Jason. Jason and Wu’s friendship is later cemented when Jason saves Wu from servitude on a ship set for parts unknown. Jason excels as an interpreter as the Chinese mainland is beset by invasion from foreign countries and internal forces as well. Jason also serves in a police unit, his cooperation deteriorating to resistance as a counterinsurgency takes shape. A battle for the city looms large. Wu and Jason escape and encounter a young woman named Black Jade herself an outcast for dishonoring her family. Black Jade joins the duo, and they embark on a troubled journey. They run into a Reverend Roberts who is acquainted with Jason’s family. The trip to the Taiping Heavenly Kingdom eventually finds Black Jade betrothed to a Taiping soldier and Jason a stringer for a newspaper. The years pass and the war between the Taipings and Manchu Dynasty heats up. Jason is chronicling the happenings but feels an obligation to his friends. Will he get there to see them?
Tienkuo: the Heavenly Kingdom is a coming-of-age tale ensnared in history. The second Opium war & the nineteenth century Chinese Civil War are the backdrop for many of the goings-on in this story. The characters are well drawn and their travails are engaging. The adventure converges with the drama and burgeoning love story. A book offering great promise for its sequel. “A” all the way!
4th in Amazon’s Best Sellers in Chinese History Oct, 2011
A work of Historical Fiction About The Heavenly Kingdom of Great Peace
The book is now available in a revised edition through Amazon.com as either a paperback Kindle digital version or as an Amazon Audible book.
It was the year 1858 and three young run-aways; Jason Brandt, son of a Hong Kong missionary, his friend Wu Sek-chong and the beautiful and defiant Black Jade; set off to find the capital of the rebel Taiping Tienkuo, The Heavenly Kingdom of Great Peace. Established in 1851 by a failed civil service candidate who claimed to be the little brother of Christ, the semi-Christian Taiping Kingdom, had made a dramatic and bloody bid to overthrow the Confucian rule of the Ch’ing Dynasty.
The three young people’s search for the Heavenly Kingdom and what they eventually found among the Taipings is the central plot of this historical novel of journey and self-discovery in 19th century China. This novel was created not only to entertain but to teach about political, social and cultural life in China during the mid nineteenth century.
review comments about Tienkuo (taken largely from Amazon’s Site)
“I enjoyed the novel immensely–it’s a fun and exciting read. The author gets the big things right–the terrible violence and corruption of the Taipings in their late stages, the disgust of many Westerners for Chinese customs, and the unusual determination and stubbornness it took for those Chinese and Westerners alike who stuck with the Taipings, or in the case of Westerners, those who stayed to pursue a career in China.”
John Rapp, Beloit College, author of “Clashing Dilemmas: Hong Rengan Issachar Roberts, and a Taiping ‘Murder’ Mystery,” Journal of Historical Biography
“Exciting Book…I like it very much. The characters are believable and the cultural details about customs accurate.”
Dr. Alice Murong Pu Lin,author of Grandmother Had No Name
“I like the book…it really held my interest…I am truly impressed.”
Micki S. Nevitt, Children’s Literature Librarian, Guilderland School District, NY
“A rare treat. An engaging and historically accurate way to introduce young adults to a myriad of topics about China, including family, Confucianism, class differences, women’s roles etc.”
Mel Horowitz, Catskill High School, Former President, U.S. China People’s Friendship Association
“I picked up “Tienkuo: The Heavenly Kingdom” almost reluctantly. My hesitation lasted one page before I was swept away with the compelling and engaging story. I was captivated with this adventure from beginning to end. To add to my delight, I came away realizing that I had been given insight into an historical event, so not only was I richly entertained, but I was cleverly educated as well. What more could I ask from a book? “
Donald Samson author of Dragon Boy & The Dragon of Two Hearts
“Masterfully interweaving history, culture, and characters, TIENKUO takes readers on a fascinating journey through 19th century China. It was a time of imperialism, trade, drug, and feudal wars. We are introduced to a variety of people caught in the vice of history. The adventures and love of an American missionary’s son and an alluring woman named Black Jade are the focal points, but along the way we meet soldiers and mercenaries, warlords and rogues, merchants and nobles. And we are escorted through a little-known, exotic, and compelling time and place.
This book can be read by teenagers, young adults or adults for either entertainment or educational purposes. Students and teachers of Asian studies or Asian-American relations can especially benefit from it. History truly is made of the lives of the many small people caught in its great movements. TIENKUO gives us a delicious taste of a little known time and place and makes history come to life.”
By Edward Tick Author of The Practice of Dream Healing plus War & The Soul: Healing Our Nation’s Veterans from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
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.