A story of drugs, distrust, greed and rebellion
The first Opium War was fought over 150 years ago, but its legacy is still felt today. Taking as her starting point the dramas of the war itself, Julia Lovell explores both its causes and consequences: Qing China’s expansive interactions with the world beyond its borders; the miscalculations of the court’s anti-opium lobby; the mutual incomprehension that pushed both sides towards war; the opportunistic hypocrisy of the British; the terrible bloodshed resulting from Britain’s overwhelming superiority and China’s dearth of military realism. She then turns her attentions to the construction of the Opium War myth in both China and the West, via China’s slowly intensifying sense of guochi (national humiliation) at the hands of imperialism and ending in the Communist Party’s self-interested efforts to harness historical memory. Through this larger narrative, she weaves the strange, contradictory stories of opium’s attackers – the prohibitionist hysteria of Western missionaries; the doctors who tried to detox smokers with arsenic, heroin and cocaine; the narcotic puritanism of twentieth-century China’s two great dictators, Chiang Kai-shek and Mao Zedong – both sworn public enemies of opium, both bankrolled by drug trade profits – before ending on an account of the paradoxes of Chinese nationalism today.
|Book:||The Opium War|
|Number of Pages:||352|
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