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

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

Hardback

By (author) Professor Julia Lovell

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  • Publisher: Overlook Press
  • Format: Hardback | 480 pages
  • Dimensions: 150mm x 234mm x 42mm | 760g
  • Publication date: 15 November 2014
  • ISBN 10: 1468308955
  • ISBN 13: 9781468308952
  • Sales rank: 482,612

Product description

In October 1839, a cabinet meeting in Windsor voted to fight Britain's first Opium War with China. The conflict turned out to be rich in tragicomedy: in bureaucratic fumblings, military missteps, political opportunism and collaboration. Yet over the past 170 years, this strange tale of misunderstanding, incompetence and compromise has become the founding myth of modern Chinese nationalism: the start of China's heroic struggle against a Western conspiracy to destroy the country with opium and gunboat diplomacy. Beginning with the dramas of the war itself, Julia Lovell explores its causes and consequences and, through this larger narrative, interweaves the curious stories of opium's promoters and attackers. "The Opium War" is both the story of China's first conflict with the West and an analysis of the country's contemporary self-image. It explores how China's national myths mold its interactions with the outside world, how public memory is spun to serve the present; and how delusion and prejudice have bedeviled its relationship with the modern West.

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Author information

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.

Review quote

"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""