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By Henry James

James's correspondents integrated presidents and best ministers, painters and nice girls, actresses and bishops, and the writers Robert Louis Stevenson, H.G. Wells and Edith Wharton. This fully-annotated choice from James's eloquent correspondence permits the author to bare himself and the interesting global during which he lived. The letters supply a wealthy and interesting resource for James' perspectives on his personal works, at the literary craft, on intercourse, politics and friendship. jointly they represent, in Philip Horne's personal phrases, James' 'real and most sensible biography'.

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Sample text

They took counsel together and decided to put to death all those that dared disobey them. From officers who had helped put down the Yellow Turban rebels they demanded presents, and if anyone refused to do so, he would be removed from office. Huangfu Song and Zhu Jun both fell victims to these intrigues, while on the other hand the eunuchs received the highest honors. Some of them were given the rank of General of Carriage and thirteen others were ennobled. The state’s affairs went from bad to worse and cries of discontent rose all around.

But just as the rebels were passing through the hills, trumpets sounded and the ambushed soldiers threw down filth and showered blood. Then the masses of troops in the air fluttered to the ground, revealing themselves as paper men and straw horses. At once the wind abated, the thunder ceased to roll, the sand sank, and the stones lay still on the ground. Seeing that his magic had been countered, Zhang Bao quickly turned to retreat. But, attacked on the flanks by Guan Yu and Zhang Fei and in the rear by Liu Bei and Zhu Jun, his army was completely routed.

Therefore, he liked nothing better than cultivating the friendship of men of substance. In appearance, he was tall of stature. He had exceptionally long ears, the lobes touching his shoulders so that his eyes could see his own ears. His arms were long, too, with his hands hanging down below his knees. He had a jade-like complexion and rich, red lips. His name was Liu Bei—or more commonly, Liu Xuan-de—a descendant of Prince Jing of Zhongshan named Liu Sheng, whose father was Emperor Jing in West Han.

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