We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
You can see where Mao came from. His horrors were just historically normal. Of course, this is historical fiction but Frazer tried to make it realistic. Sir Harry, I feel, was the original James Bond.
Lusting after a clergyman’s wife, smuggling opium to Hong Kong, coupling with an Amazonian woman river pirate, groveling before a ruthless warlord, and becoming the sexual plaything of the most beautiful and evil woman in the world, Sir Harry Flashman, the supreme antihero of the Victorian era, is ready to rise to the occasion to matter what depths of dishonor he must plumb. In this uninhibited and uproarious adventure, Flashman is once again at his irascible best.
If you want to read about that period from a Chinese perspective I highly recommend The Story of the Stone (sometimes called The Dream of the Red Chamber). It's a long read, the English translation covers four volumes, but it is a fascinating look at Chinese manners of the era.
The synopsis of the story will sound goofy, what with magic stones and whatnot, but the bulk of it is very naturalistic. Again, I highly recommend this book -- one of the better ones I've read.
From the Wikipedia article about it:
The novel provides a detailed, episodic record of life in the two branches of the wealthy, aristocratic Jia (贾) clan—the Rongguo House (榮國府) and the Ningguo House (寧國府)—who reside in two large, adjacent family compounds in the capital. Their ancestors were made Dukes and given imperial titles, and as the novel begins the two houses are among the most illustrious families in the city. One of the clan's offspring is made a Royal Consort, and a lush landscaped garden is built to receive her visit. The novel describes the Jias' wealth and influence in great naturalistic detail, and charts the Jias' fall from the height of their prestige, following some thirty main characters and over four hundred minor ones. Eventually the Jia clan falls into disfavor with the Emperor, and their mansions are raided and confiscated.
In the novel's frame story, a sentient Stone, abandoned by the goddess Nüwa when she mended the heavens aeons ago, begs a Taoist priest and a Buddhist monk to take it with them to see the world. The Stone, along with a companion (in Cheng-Gao versions they are merged into the same character), is then given a chance to learn from human existence, and enters the mortal realm.
The main character of the novel is the carefree adolescent male heir of the family, Jia Baoyu. He was born with a magical piece of "jade" in his mouth. In this life he has a special bond with his sickly cousin Lin Daiyu, who shares his love of music and poetry. Baoyu, however, is predestined to marry another cousin, Xue Baochai, whose grace and intelligence exemplify an ideal woman, but with whom he lacks an emotional connection. The romantic rivalry and friendship among the three characters against the backdrop of the family's declining fortunes form the main story in the novel.
The "Flashman" series is brilliant and painstakingly researched. One learns voluminous world history through the exploits of "The Flash" set among real world events. Fraser was a literary genius. (For a taste of his nonfiction excellence, see "Quartered Safe Out Here," his personal memoir of the WWII Burma campaign. Widely considered to be among the best military history ever written.)
I've enjoyed the Flashman novels for years, having read and re-read all of them to the point that I just pick one up at this point depending on whether I want to read about an adventure in Russia, Madagascar, or the New World.
Got Quartered Safe Out Here last Christmas and thoroughly enjoyed it, but am told by others that the dialect is difficult to decipher if you don't have some familiarity with it.
His name is Fraser, not Frazer. He was also a Hollywood screenwriter (Octopussy, 3/4 Musketeers). Wrote Quartered Safe Out Here about his days as a soldier Burma in WW2 and as an officer in post-war North Africa.
Several US reviewers of the first Flashman novels did not know they were reviewing fiction.