- Paperback: 480 pages
- Publisher: Picador (19 July 2012)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0330457489
- ISBN-13: 978-0330457484
- Product Dimensions: 12.8 x 3 x 19.7 cm
- Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 16,605 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
The Opium War: Drugs, Dreams and the Making of China Paperback – 19 Jul 2012
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`Making the most of her considerable gifts as a story teller and deep familiarity with the contrasting ways that the tale of the Opium War has been told inside and outside of China, Julia Lovell offers us a fresh perspective on a pivotal episode in nineteenth-century history. The result is a compulsively readable and consistently thought provoking work. It is filled with both lively accounts of things that happened long ago and insightful comments on the powerful shadows that these old events continue to cast in our still-young century.' --Jeffrey Wasserstrom, author of China in the 21st Century: What Everyone Needs to Know
`Julia Lovell has written a lucid, perceptive and rich account of this much manipulated story of the first, bruising encounter between China and the West. An important and compelling book for anyone who wants to understand the uses and misuses of Chinese history.' --Chinadialogue.net
`No one who has read Julia Lovell's marvelous book on the Great Wall of China will be surprised that she has written such a great history of the Opium War. This defining passage in China's history - the beginning of a grisly century and a half of exploitation and misery - provides a rich seam of material which Julia Lovell draws on with huge narrative skill. Not the least of her attributes is her ability to show how these events have resonated down the years. A real cracker of a book.' --Chris Patten, former Governor and Commander in Chief of Hong Kong
`You cannot understand China today without understanding the huge impact the Opium Wars have had on restructuring Chinese national pride. This is the first western book I have read that does justice to that complicated story.' --Xinran, author of The Good Women of China and Message From an Unknown Chinese Mother.
`In this riveting book, Julia Lovell explores the myths surrounding opium trading and the titanic clash between Britain and China, which shaped China's perception of its place in the world for more than a century. This book is at its heart a powerful plea for deeper mutual sympathy between the West and China; with Western economies under stress and tensions rising over trade imbalances, the parallel between the 1830's and today is unmistakable . . . we would be wise to heed the ancient warning that those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.'
--Tim Clissold, author of Mr China
'More than just a history... by looking at the conflict from a contemporary viewpoint, The Opium War offers insight into an Asian superpower still uneasy with its trade relations with the West.' --International Herald Tribune --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
'Lively, erudite and meticulously researched' Literary ReviewSee all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
However, I believe the book suffers from a couple of flaws. While the Qing were clearly both incompetent and unpopular rulers, I felt the author adopted an almost sneering tone towards Chinese attempts to repel the British, something out of place in a scholarly work. This is not to say that she underplays the invidious nature of British actions during the conflict.
I also felt that the final chapter was a bit of an afterthought. I agree with many of the sentiments expressed about current Chinese attitudes to the West, and share Lovell's concern about the rise in toxic ultra-Nationalism. I'm just not sure that this book is the place to deal with the subject. Despite these reservations, The Opium War is certainly worth a read by anyone interested in the period. It'll be interesting to see how Paxman deals with the same subject in his new book on the British Empire.
Both sides, with some exceptions even at the time, held firm to a sense of superiority in their respective civilisations over the other, and were equally sure of the rightness of their cause. Neither side held the other in much respect, and this lack of respect fuelled the flames of war. Neither side had any real comprehension of the other's motives, values, or ambitions
Ms Lovell's account of the historical events, and the shadows which they continue to shed over China's relationship with the West, is entertaining, illuminating, and written with humour as well as insight.
Highly recommended for those interested in history, and in the historical factors shaping China's relationship with the West today.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Extremely well written and exciting like the most exciting suspense novel.Published 8 months ago by Jan Christian Nielsen
Engaging and informative. Not sure about how partisan it is, but an engaging readPublished 14 months ago by Amazon Customer
A very enlightening book about a period of British history little discussed today.
What an awful ‘trade’ this was. Read more
Insightful. A treat to read a work by an authority on the subject, and to get a better view of both sides of the story ...Published 22 months ago by A. BIRD
Extremely well written and entertaining with insight and historical and factual integrityPublished 22 months ago by robert carter