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Imperial Twilight: The Opium War and the End of China's Last Golden Age
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Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group 2018
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Description
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.
 
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 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 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 characters, this riveting narrative of relations between China and the West has important implications for today’s uncertain and ever-changing political climate.
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Format:
Adobe EPUB eBook, Kindle Book, OverDrive Read
Street Date:
05/15/2018
Language:
English
ISBN:
9780307961747
ASIN:
B074YK9NHS
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Citations
APA Citation (style guide)

Stephen R. Platt. (2018). Imperial Twilight: The Opium War and the End of China's Last Golden Age. Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group.

Chicago / Turabian - Author Date Citation (style guide)

Stephen R. Platt. 2018. Imperial Twilight: The Opium War and the End of China's Last Golden Age. Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group.

Chicago / Turabian - Humanities Citation (style guide)

Stephen R. Platt, Imperial Twilight: The Opium War and the End of China's Last Golden Age. Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, 2018.

MLA Citation (style guide)

Stephen R. Platt. Imperial Twilight: The Opium War and the End of China's Last Golden Age. Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, 2018.

Note! Citation formats are based on standards as of July 2022. Citations contain only title, author, edition, publisher, and year published. Citations should be used as a guideline and should be double checked for accuracy.
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Date Added:
Jun 12, 2018 17:12:16
Date Updated:
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      • bioText: STEPHEN R. PLATT is a professor of Chinese history at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. His last book, Autumn in the Heavenly Kingdom: China, the West, and the Epic Story of the Taiping Civil War, was a Washington Post Notable Book, a New York Times Book Review Editors' Choice, and won the Cundill History Prize. Platt lives with his wife and children in Northampton, Massachusetts.
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Vintage
publishDate
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title
Imperial Twilight
fullDescription
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.
 
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 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 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 characters, this riveting narrative of relations between China and the West has important implications for today’s uncertain and ever-changing political climate.
reviews
      • premium: True
      • source: Publisher's Weekly
      • content:

        February 12, 2018
        Platt (Autumn in the Heavenly Kingdom), a professor of history at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, provides a fresh perspective on the first Opium War, the conflict that allowed Western merchants to pry open China’s riches and gain unprecedented trading privileges. Far from an inevitable conflict, Platt posits the Opium War (1839–1842) was the unexpected and bloody culmination
        of a long period of peaceful relations between British traders and China under the Qing emperors. Moreover, it marked a decisive shift in British attitudes toward China; from being viewed as a mighty empire and civilizational equal, China was now a subordinate Eastern nation, just another feather in the Royal Navy’s cap. Platt provides a highly textured account of the decades leading up to the Opium War, detailing the gradual penetration of the China trade by a series of British adventurers whose antics were more buffoonish than brilliant (when George Macartney first arrived at the Chinese court he donned an outlandish velvet suit and feathered cap in a misguided attempt to impress the emperor) and whose efforts only succeeded because of the severe pressure placed on the Qing empire by peasant uprisings. The narrative is slow-moving and only comes to life in the last chapter, when the breakout of the Opium War provides some much-needed action. That said, Platt’s research is impeccably presented in this winning history of British and Chinese trade.

      • premium: True
      • source: Kirkus
      • content:

        March 15, 2018
        A deeply researched study of an early clash of civilizations, when England attempted to impose its will on East Asia.The Opium War of 1839 began, in at least one sense, a half-century earlier, when a British adventurer attracted enough attention after wandering around in the country to give the imperial Chinese government a solid case that it didn't want outsiders to enter the realm. After a period of imprisonment, writes Platt (Chinese History/Univ. of Massachusetts, Amherst; Autumn in the Heavenly Kingdom: China, the West, and the Epic Story of the Taiping Civil War, 2012, etc.), the traveler returned to England, where he taught an American named Benjamin Franklin how to make tofu. After that comparatively pleasant interlude, things took a martial turn; Britain and France sent competing fleets, and Asia beckoned to every European imperial power. China tried to fend them off, with the governor general of Macao, for instance, closing off access to food and water to foreign fleets. While the emperor accepted gifts from the king of England, he did not welcome commerce: "If the king would just tend to the boundaries of his own empire...and feel 'dutiful submission' within his own heart, there would be no need for a British mission ever to come to China again." The British did come, demanding that China open its markets for the sale of illegal opium. As the author notes, it's not as if there was no demand for the product--Chinese students used it to stay sharp for their exams, and "for those in more humble situations who couldn't afford to smoke it themselves, employment in the opium trade still provided a chance for income as couriers and petty dealers." British victory opened the door to concessions to other European powers and, in time, brought down the Qing monarchy, which ushered in the modern, communist China--surely a lesson in unintended consequences.A fluent, well-written exercise in revisionism, one of interest to students of modern geopolitics as well as 19th-century history.

        COPYRIGHT(2018) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

      • premium: True
      • source: Library Journal
      • content:

        April 1, 2018

        This book's final chapter provides only a brief description of the course of the First Opium War (1839-42). Instead, Platt (Univ. of Massachusetts Amherst; Autumn in the Heavenly Kingdom) focuses the bulk of this volume on painting a vivid picture of the history of relations between Britain and China from the mid-18th century up to the outbreak of the war. Readers will find a variety of perspectives represented, including officials in Beijing and London dealing with domestic and foreign policy concerns, and the experiences of the merchant and missionary communities of Canton and Macau. While the story concentrates on the colorful cast of British and Chinese, it also offers interesting vignettes of Indian merchants and the relationship between American John Murray Forbes and Hong merchant Wu Bingjian (known as Howqua in the West), the world's wealthiest man at the time. VERDICT This thoroughly researched and delightful work is essential for anyone interested in Chinese or British imperial history. For a more detailed accounting of the war itself, consider Julia Lovell's The Opium War.--Joshua Wallace, Tarleton State Univ. Lib. Stephenville, TX

        Copyright 2018 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

      • premium: True
      • source: Booklist
      • content:

        Starred review from April 1, 2018
        Clear writing and an excellent sense of story and scene-setting mark Platt's (Autumn in the Heavenly Kingdom, 2012) compelling reexamination of the causes of the First Opium War (1839-42). While the dominant narrative portrays the conflict as inevitable, Platt's careful telling of the events leading up the war shows that it was actually more of a surprise and that both sides sought to avoid the conflict. In addition to examining the direct interactions Chinese officials had with British traders and smugglers, Platt looks beyond the events in Canton and considers both empires and the influence earlier domestic politics and struggles, including the White Lotus Rebellion and the Napoleonic Wars, had on the actions of both sides. Platt brings to life the people who drive the story, including the missionaries desperate to learn more about China and its language, the drug smugglers who made so much money they still have name recognition, the officials desperate to handle a growing crisis of widespread opium addiction, and even a pirate queen and Jane Austen's older brother. Platt's vivid and compelling major reassessment will shift our understanding of the First Opium War.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2018, American Library Association.)

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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.
 
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 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 that was destined to be shattered by one of the most shockingly unjust wars in the annals of imperial history....
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