Welcome to a new podcast from Pop-up Chinese. Barbarians at the Gate is a semi-serious look at Chinese history and culture hosted by rogue historian Jeremiah Jenne and writer James Palmer. We’ll pick a topic and then explore that subject over four episodes released every other Friday. Our first topic appropriately enough is about barbarians, and our inaugural episode looks at An Lushan: the outsider who charmed his way into the court of the Tang Dynasty in the eighth century and who almost succeeded in bringing down the empire. It’s a story made for imperial slash fic: The aging emperor, his rotund but sexy concubine, and the foreigner who came between them.
For more about An Lushan, also check out my piece for The World of Chinese: “The Barbarian and the Babe.“