2 photos, 10 maps, 1 chronology, 3 appendixes, index
The Manchu Qing victory over the Chinese Ming Dynasty in the mid-seventeenth century was one of the most surprising and traumatic developments in China’s long history. In the last year of the Ming, the southwest region of China became the base of operations for the notorious leader Zhang Xianzhong (1605–47), a peasant rebel known as the Yellow Tiger. Zhang’s systematic reign of terror allegedly resulted in the deaths of at least one-sixth of the population of the entire Sichuan province in just two years. The rich surviving source record, however, indicates that much of the destruction took place well after Zhang’s death in 1647 and can be attributed to independent warlords, marauding bandits, the various Ming and Qing armies vying for control of the empire, and natural disasters.
On the Trail of the Yellow Tiger is the first Western study to examine in detail the aftermath of the Qing conquest by focusing on the social and demographic effects of the Ming-Qing transition. By integrating the modern techniques of trauma and memory studies into the military and social history of the transition, Kenneth M. Swope adds a crucial piece to the broader puzzle of dynastic collapse and reconstruction. He also considers the Ming-Qing transition in light of contemporary conflicts around the globe, offering a comparative military history that engages with the universal connections between war and society.