Stephen R. Platt is the author of Autumn in the Heavenly Kingdom, a new history of the Taiping Rebellion in global context published. He is an associate professor at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and holds a PhD in Chinese history from Yale University, where his dissertation was awarded the Theron Rockwell Field Prize. He is also the author of Provincial Patriots: The Hunanese and Modern China (Harvard, 2007), and won the Smart Family Foundation Prize in 2004 for an article on Harvard’s first Chinese teacher. An undergraduate English major, Platt spent two years after college as a Yale-China teacher in Hunan province before returning to graduate school for Chinese history. From 2008 to 2010 he was a fellow of the National Committee on US-China Relations' Public Intellectuals Program, and his research has been supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Fulbright program, and the Chiang Ching-kuo Foundation.

Platt lives in Greenfield, Massachusetts, with his wife and daughter.

Last Updated: May 2, 2014

Books

05.11.12

Autumn in the Heavenly Kingdom

Stephen R. Platt
A gripping account of China’s nineteenth-century Taiping Rebellion, one of the largest civil wars in history, Autumn in the Heavenly Kingdom brims with unforgettable characters and vivid re-creations of massive and often gruesome battles—a sweeping yet intimate portrait of the conflict that shaped the fate of modern China. The story begins in the early 1850s, the waning years of the Qing dynasty, when word spread of a major revolution brewing in the provinces, led by a failed civil servant who claimed to be the son of God and brother of Jesus. The Taiping rebels drew their power from the poor and the disenfranchised, unleashing the ethnic rage of millions of Chinese against their Manchu rulers. This homegrown movement seemed all but unstoppable until Britain and the United States stepped in and threw their support behind the Manchus: after years of massive carnage, all opposition to Qing rule was effectively snuffed out for generations.Stephen R. Platt recounts these events in spellbinding detail, building his story on two fascinating characters with opposing visions for China’s future: the conservative Confucian scholar Zeng Guofan, an accidental general who emerged as the most influential military strategist in China’s modern history; and Hong Rengan, a brilliant Taiping leader whose grand vision of building a modern, industrial, and pro-Western Chinese state ended in tragic failure. —Knopf

Out of School

12.20.11

The “United States of China,” 100 Years Later

Stephen Platt
On September 29, 1910, a young Chinese cook in Berkeley named George Fong bought himself a .38 caliber revolver. The next day he hiked up into the hills behind the fraternity house where he worked at the University of California, found a secluded...

Recommended Links

via
Atlantic
08.31.12

Thirty-six years after "Great Helmsman" Mao Zedong died of a heart attack, leaving his country briefly rudderless during a time of crisis and uncertainty, the Chinese ship of state is still sailing. But is it still seaworthy? Observers are energetically debating whether the legitimacy of the Chinese Communist Party, which has endured so...