In the early nineteenth century China remained almost untouched by British and European powers - but as new technology started to change this balance, foreigners gathered like wolves around the weakening Qing Empire. Would the Chinese suffer the fate of much of the rest of the world, carved into pieces by Europeans? Or could they adapt rapidly enough to maintain their independence?
This important and compelling book explains the roots of China's complex relationship with the West by illuminating a dramatic, colourful and sometimes shocking period of the country's history.
Powerful, astute and readable ... meticulously researched in contemporary English-language records and journals, and written with flair and feeling, its rhetoric eschews rant and is never misplaced
Compellingly erudite and clear-sighted history
At every airport bookshop, the business traveller is offered shelves of volumes that purport to tell us how an emerging, powerful China will deal with the world, and how the rest of us should make the most of the commercial opportunities opened up by its rise. Those who wish to understand these issues more closely might be better advised to read this fair and fascinating account