Imperial Twilight by Stephen R. Platt
The Opium War and the End of China's Last Golden Age

No critic rating

Waiting for minimum critic reviews

See 1 Critic Review

...his administration would do well to read Imperial Twilight. It vividly evokes both the tragic consequences of British impatience over trade with China, and the stories of the many westerners and Chinese people who pragmatically coexisted and cooperated for decades before the declaration of war.
-Guardian

Synopsis

As China reclaims its position as a world power, Imperial Twilight looks back to tell the story of the country's last age of ascendance and how it came to an end in the nineteenth-century Opium War.

"This thoroughly researched and delightful work is essential for anyone interested in Chinese or British imperial history." --Library Journal (Starred Review)

When Britain launched its first war on China in 1839, pushed into hostilities by profiteering drug merchants and free-trade interests, it sealed the fate of what had long been seen as the most prosperous and powerful empire in Asia, if not the world. But internal problems of corruption, popular unrest, and dwindling finances had weakened China far more than was commonly understood, and the war would help set in motion the eventual fall of the Qing dynasty--which, in turn, would lead to the rise of nationalism and communism in the twentieth century. As one of the most potent turning points in the country's modern history, the Opium War has since come to stand for everything that today's China seeks to put behind it.

In this dramatic, epic story, award-winning historian Stephen Platt sheds new light on the early attempts by Western traders and missionaries to "open" China--traveling mostly in secret beyond Canton, the single port where they were allowed--even as China's imperial rulers were struggling to manage their country's decline and Confucian scholars grappled with how to use foreign trade to China's advantage. The book paints an enduring portrait of an immensely profitable--and mostly peaceful--meeting of civilizations at Canton over the long term that was destined to be shattered by one of the most shockingly unjust wars in the annals of imperial history. Brimming with a fascinating cast of British, Chinese, and American individuals, this riveting narrative of relations between China and the West has important implications for today's uncertain and ever-changing political climate.
 

About Stephen R. Platt

See more books from this Author
Stephen R. Platt received his Ph.D. in Chinese history from Yale University, where his dissertation was awarded the Theron Rockwell Field Prize. He is an associate professor at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and is also the author of Provincial Patriots: The Hunanese and Modern China. An undergraduate English major, he spent two years after college as a teacher in the Yale-China program in Hunan province. His research has been supported by the Fulbright program, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Chiang Ching-Kuo Foundation. He lives in Greenfield, Massachusetts, with his wife and daughter.
 
Published May 15, 2018 by Knopf. 592 pages
Genres: History, Travel, War. Non-fiction
Add Critic Review

Critic reviews for Imperial Twilight
All: 1 | Positive: 1 | Negative: 0

Guardian

Good
Reviewed by Julia Lovell on Jun 27 2018

...his administration would do well to read Imperial Twilight. It vividly evokes both the tragic consequences of British impatience over trade with China, and the stories of the many westerners and Chinese people who pragmatically coexisted and cooperated for decades before the declaration of war.

Read Full Review of Imperial Twilight: The Opium ... | See more reviews from Guardian
×