When America First Met China: An Exotic History of Tea, Drugs, and Money During the Age of Sail

Author(s): Eric Jay Dolin


Eric Jay Dolin traces America's fraught relationship with China back to the unforgiving nineteenth-century seas that separated a brash, rising naval power from a battered ancient empire. It is a prescient fable for our time, one that continues to shed light on America's modern relationship with China. Indeed, the trade in furs, opium and beche-de-mer - a rare sea cucumber delicacy - might have catalysed America's emerging economy but it also sparked an ecological and human rights catastrophe of such proportions that the reverberations can still be felt today. Peopled with fascinating characters - from the "Financier of the Revolution" Robert Morris to the Qianlong Emperor - this is a page-turning saga of pirates and politicians, coolies and concubines.


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This sweeping popular history... brews up a rich and satisfying narrative of the exotic intersection of the silk, tea, and opium trade and the missionary zeal that characterized America's engagement with the still mysterious 'Middle Kingdom' in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. With a flair for dramatic and fast-paced storytelling, Dolin provides the reader with nuanced insights into everything from pirates, the world-changing impact of the silk trade, the British-Chinese Opium War of the 1840s, and the fearlessness (and na vet ) of the early missionaries to good old-fashioned tales of adventure on the high seas.

Eric Jay Dolin is the author of the "magnificent" (Geographical Magazine) Fur, Fortune, and Empire (ISBN 978 0 393 34002 0) and Leviathan, (ISBN 978 0 393 33157 8). Author website: www.ericjaydolin.com

General Fields

  • : 9780871404336
  • : WW Norton & Co
  • : WW Norton & Co
  • : September 2012
  • : 235mm X 156mm X 36mm
  • : United States
  • : September 2012
  • : books

Special Fields

  • : 382.0973051
  • : 416
  • : 16 pages of colour and 83 black-and-white illustrations; 1 map
  • : Eric Jay Dolin
  • : Hardback