Books: Affair of Hate

THE SIEGE AT PEKING (273 pp.)—Peter Fleming—Harper ($4).

On the lawn of the British Legation in Peking on the afternoon of June 20, 1900, a sergeant reported to the officer commanding the Royal Light Infantry guarding the legation: "Sir, the firing has commenced." The Chinese empire had begun a last feeble fight against the yang kuei-tzu (foreign devils), who had turned China into one of history's great grab bags. In half a century, seven powers had taken eleven bases in China and split 13 of the 18 provinces into "spheres of influence," a gentlemanly phrase for the control of China's trade and...

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