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Opium Regimes: China, Britain and Japan, 1839-1952 [Paperback]

Timothy Brook
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

25 Aug 2000
Opium is more than just a drug extracted from poppies. Over the past two centuries it has been a palliative medicine, an addictive substance, a powerful mechanism for concentrating and transferring wealth and power between nations, and the anchor for a now vanished sociocultural world in and around China. "Opium Regimes" integrates the pioneering research of sixteen scholars to show that the opium trade was not purely a British operation but involved Chinese merchants, Chinese state agents, and Japanese imperialists as well. The book presents a coherent historical arc that moves from British imperialism in the nineteenth century, to Chinese capital formation and state making at the turn of the century, to Japanese imperialism through the 1930s and 1940s, and finally to the apparent resolution of China's opium problem in the early 1950s. Together these essays show that the complex interweaving of commodity trading, addiction, and state intervention in opium's history refigured the historical face of East Asia more profoundly than any other commodity.

Product details

  • Paperback: 460 pages
  • Publisher: University of California Press; Second Edition edition (25 Aug 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0520222369
  • ISBN-13: 978-0520222366
  • Product Dimensions: 22.9 x 15.5 x 3.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,092,755 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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"A dense volume, faultlessly edited and with a remarkable bibliography--in short, a reference work on the state of research in an area the scope of which is in constant expansion. In Opium Regimes can be found both the results and, conversely, the weaknesses of the history of opium in Asia."--China Perspectives

About the Author

Timothy Brook is Professor of History at the University of Toronto and the author most recently of the prizewinning The Confusions of Pleasure: Commerce and Culture in Ming China (California, 1998). Bob Tadashi Wakabayashi is Professor of History at York University in Toronto and the author of Japanese Loyalism Reconstrued (1995), among other works.

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Opium in Chinese history is a large subject, as Jonathan Spence has observed. Read the first page
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars How the West was Won 18 Jun 2010
By Dr. Delvis Memphistopheles TOP 100 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Concise, well written an academic sociological, development book. This details the various components that led to shaping the East in the 19thC. It focuses primarily the double dealing, and intrigues of the Sino-British Opium Trade. It highlights the rigged markets, the bidding wars and how they were circumvented.

After the Shanghai Confenence and Britain relinqishing its role as the worlds drug pusher the analysis then shifts to Japanese duplicity. Nippone took over the reins and steered the carriage for the benefit of its industrial makeover.

This book shines the academic torch into the mercantile free market activities of colonial trade, all bereft of the myopia of any obvious adherence to a falsely constructed belief systems. In particular it highlights the ideology of free trade and structural intervention.

Interestingly the opium trade, colossal in its impact, has been academically erased from economics, developmental studies, history and psychology. The erasure has led to deep sizeable fundamental errors, all based on collective memory wipe. This book lifts the pavement slab, and underneath the creepy crawlies scuttle to the darkness. To get to the "truth" a little digging is required. It is akin to modern German scholars after winning WW2 asking why did Judaism decline?

Within the focus, the operation of laissez faire companies trading under the guise of governments becomes apparent. The hidden hand of the free market, was always ready to send in gunships to blast open the trade and then create a levelled playing field. This allowed trade to flourish, leading to the building of Hong Kong, Singapore and the eventual free trade, booty loving world we currently inhabit.
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Amazon.com: 5.0 out of 5 stars  2 reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Probably one of the most well-rounded books... 19 May 2013
By Rini - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book is an excellent collection of essays about opium trade and traffic in Asia. My personal interest is in Japanese history and opium trade, and this book was an excellent resource. Of course the primary writer for Japan was Bob Tadashi Wakabayashi, and the majority of the book was about China, but given the circumstances that can be forgiven.

The opium trade beginning with British Imperial interests and then Japanese Imperial interests are covered in this book. It also covers the effects and how the Chinese government finally dealt with the aftermath of wide-spread addiction.

If you are interested in historical details about opium in Asia, this is an excellent book. Wakabayashi's coverage of the Japan and its avoidance, and their eventual use of opium for imperial gain is extremely interesting. The information about China's addiction through the British and the changes in China thanks to opium was also interesting. This is a book that will open your eyes to the systems if you did not know about Japan's opium hold on China and how Korea was involved in it. Each of the essays holds their own, and it is a scholarly discussion overall. Regardless, if you are interested in opium in the 19th-20th Centuries, this is a must read.

One of the better books I've read, along with Opium, Empire and the Global Political Economy: A Study of the Asian Opium Trade 1750-1950 (Asia's Transformations) and The Opium Empire: Japanese Imperialism and Drug Trafficking in Asia, 1895-1945 on the topic. Others (mostly in China) would be Opium and the Limits of Empire: Drug Prohibition in the Chinese Interior, 1729-1850 (Harvard East Asian Monographs) and Sushila Narsimhan's "Japanese Perceptions of China in the Nineteenth Century." Japanese Imperialist opium trade was my interest and it's reflected here.
1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If you're interested in commerce and history, this is for you 28 Sep 2012
By Tyrus07 - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book is a fantastic read. Not in the swashbuckling sense....go to "Flashman and the Dragon" for that...but as good, riveting history. Goes right along with "Flashman" by George M. Fraser and "Opium War" by Peter Ward Fay. If you're into commerce, history, economics, you'll enjoy this book. More fiction to read alongside this: Amitav Ghosh, Ibis Trilogy. Opium Regimes gets you right down and dirty into the Den.
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