The Opium War: Drugs, Dreams, and the Making of Modern China

The Opium War: Drugs, Dreams, and the Making of Modern China

by Julia Lovell

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In October 1839, a Windsor cabinet meeting votes to begin the first Opium War against China. Bureaucratic fumbling, military missteps, and a healthy dose of political opportunism and collaboration followed. Rich in tragicomedy, The Opium War explores the disastrous British foreign-relations move that became a founding myth of modern Chinese nationalism, and depicts China’s heroic struggle against Western conspiracy. Julia Lovell examines the causes and consequences of the Opium War, interweaving tales of the opium pushers and dissidents. More importantly, she analyses how the Opium Wars shaped China's self-image and created an enduring model for its interactions with the West, plagued by delusion and prejudice.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781468313239
Publisher: ABRAMS
Publication date: 11/10/2015
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 512
Sales rank: 582,323
File size: 18 MB
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About the Author

Julia Lovell is an author, translator, and academic. She is the author of the widely acclaimed The Great Wall: China Against the World 1000 BC–AD 2000, which was published in eighteen countries. She has translated many key Chinese works into English, including Lust, Caution by Eileen Chang, The Complete Fiction of Lu Xun, and Serve the People by Yan Lianke. She is a lecturer in modern Chinese history and literature at the University of London and writes for the Guardian, The Times, the Economist, and the Times Literary Supplement. She spends a large part of the year in China with her family.

Table of Contents

Maps xiii

A Note About Chinese Names and Romanization xxi

Introduction 1

1 Opium and China 17

2 Daoguang's Decision 39

3 Canton Spring 55

4 Opium and Lime 69

5 The First Shots 78

6 'An Explanatory Declaration' 95

7 Sweet-Talk and Sea-Slug 109

8 Qishan's Downfall 125

9 The Siege of Canton 141

10 The UnEnglished Englishman 167

11 Xiamen and Zhoushan 179

12 A Winter in Suzhou 192

13 The Fight for Qing China 209

14 The Treaty of Nanjing 223

15 Peace and War 241

16 The Yellow Peril 267

17 The National Disease 292

18 Communist Conspiracies 309

19 Conclusion 333

Principal Characters 361

Timeline 365

Notes 374

Selected Bibliography 423

Acknowledgements 442

Index 445

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

“A crisp readable account [Lovell] keeps a sharp plot running, which is a testament to her writing skills . . . Ms. Lovell, a keen observer of contemporary Chinese culture, also traces the "afterlife" of the war, exploring the ways it has been remembered from the 19th century to the present.” —The Wall Street Journal

“Excellent . . . Intriguing . . .  For those seeking a blow-by-blow account of the conflict, this book will more than satisfy . . . Lovell is no apologist for the English, or their eagerness for war.” —The Daily Beast 

“An astute, bracing history lesson on a conflict that set off the British notion of “yellow peril” and Chinese victimhood . . . Lovell offers extensive analysis of why and how this conflict helped create an entire founding theory of Chinese nationalism” —Kirkus Reviews

The Opium War is dramatic, eye-opening history . . . Historian Lovell recounts the war and its aftermath in full detail.” —Booklist 

“Painstakingly follows the intricate webs of trades, treaties, accusations, and recriminations between the two empires . . . Lovell masterfully condenses into one volume a dense, difficult conflict, the results of which are still can be felt 170 years later.”Publishers Weekly


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