Life in early modern China is depicted in intimate detail in an account, based on county histories, memoirs, and contemporary stories, of events in T'an-ch'eng county during the late years of the seventeenth century
“Spence shows himself at once historian, detective, and artist. . . . He makes history howl.” (The New Republic) Award-winning author Jonathan D. Spence paints a vivid picture of an obscure place and time: provincial China in the seventeenth century. Life in the northeastern county of T’an-ch’eng emerges here as an endless cycle of floods, plagues, crop failures, banditry, and heavy taxation. Against this turbulent background a tenacious tax collector, an irascible farmer, and an unhappy wife act out a poignant drama at whose climax the wife, having run away from her husband, returns to him, only to die at his hands. Magnificently evoking the China of long ago, The Death of Woman Wang also deepens our understanding of the China we know today.