Adventures to China

Adventures to China : Americans in the Southern Oceans, 1792-1812

  • Hardback
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Product details

  • Hardback | 202 pages
  • 144.78 x 210.82 x 22.86mm | 589.67g
  • Oxford University Press
  • Oxford, United Kingdom
  • Ill.M.
  • 0195012860
  • 9780195012866

Review Text

An entertaining anecdotal account of our trade with China during those prosperous years when European wars allowed New England ships to be carriers to once-restricted mainland ports. Relying entirely on such contemporary materials as memoirs, diaries, and letters, Kirker recounts the varied experiences of lonely sealers in the inhospitable South Atlantic and in the more inviting islands of Polynesia, where sandalwood was an additional prize. The real Beneto Cereno is here, as is John Jacob Astor - only one of many men to make independent fortunes in the fur trade before it was monopolized by large mercantile houses in New York and Boston. In an especially interesting chapter on Fiji, Kirker demonstrates the wholesale disruption of island culture by the American sandalwood trade - a harbinger of future casualties of the Western search for profits in the Far East. Unfortunately the final chapter on Canton is written in the same casual vein as the others, though our early relations with the Chinese empire deserve more detailed treatment than do adventures among foodgathering peoples of the South Pacific. Nevertheless this will be a welcome companion to more scholarly works. (Kirkus Reviews)show more