The Opium War, 1840-1842: Barbarians in the Celestial Empire in the Early Part of the Nineteenth Century and the War by which They Forced Her Gates Ajar / Edition 1

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This book tells the fascinating story of the war between England and China that delivered Hong Kong to the English, forced the imperial Chinese government to add four ports to Canton as places in which foreigners could live and trade, and rendered irreversible the process that for almost a century thereafter distinguished western relations with this quarter of the globe— the process that is loosely termed the "opening of China."
Originally published by UNC Press in 1975, Peter Ward Fay's study was the first to treat extensively the opium trade from the point of production in India to the point of consumption in China and the first to give both Protestant and Catholic missionaries their due; it remains the most comprehensive account of the first Opium War through western eyes. In a new preface, Fay reflects on the relationship between the events described in the book and Hong Kong's more recent history.

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What People Are Saying

From the Publisher
I know of no other study that gives such a first-hand sense of the western participants' actions and reactions during this period. By letting us look at nineteenth-century China through the eyes of the traders, missionaries, and officials who hovered outside of Canton (and then finally assaulted the 'Celestial Empire'), Fay creates a perfect cadre for a lively, wittily written account of the time. It is narrative history in the grand manner.—Frederic Wakeman Jr., University of California, Berkeley

The Opium War, 1840-1842 demonstrates the academic validity and usefulness, as well as the sheer reading pleasure, of narrative historical treatment done properly.—Queen's Quarterly

Peter Ward Fay has produced a classic study in The Opium War, 1840-1842, based on a mastery and synthesis of the first-hand Western records of the time and whatever is available in Western languages from the Chinese side.—John K. Fairbank, New York Times Book Review

Panoramic, thoughtful, and brilliantly presented. . . . [Fay's] special strengths, and they are very considerable, lie in synthesis and presentation, in his flair for handling historical narrative with literary elegance, wit, and a feel for the dramatic. . . . Clearly an excellent piece of work that meets a need and deserves a wide readership.—Pacific Historical Review

Fay has pieced together, from an enormous range of firsthand sources, a vivid, microscopically detailed account.—Historian

The work is rich in detail and made richer still by the author's forceful and robust writing style, which makes it almost possible to see and breathe the opium episode. He paints a historical picture with vivid colors, capturing the imagination of the reader, carrying it with him through the poppy fields of Uttar Pradesh, along the muddy streets of Macao, and into the malaria-infested troop encampments on Chusan.—American Historical Review

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780807847145
  • Publisher: The University of North Carolina Press
  • Publication date: 3/16/1998
  • Edition description: 1
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 440
  • Product dimensions: 6.06 (w) x 9.04 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Peter Ward Fay is professor emeritus of history at the California Institute of Technology.

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Table of Contents


Preface to the Paperback Edition
List of Characters

Part One. The Old China Trade
1. Papaver Somniferum
2. Canton and Macao
3. Managing the Barbarians
4. The Opium Traffic
5. The End of the Company

Part Two. Christ and Opium
6. The Napier Fizzle
7. The Protestant Mission
8. The Catholic Mission
9. A Rising Tide
10. Peking in Earnest
11. Lin and the Twenty Thousand Chests
12. We Won't Go Back!
13. India and England Take Notice
14. The Coming of the War

Part Three. The War
15. The First Expedition
16. At the Peiho
17. The Blockade and the Barrier
18. Chusan
19. Up the River to Canton
20. The City Spared
21. San-yuan-li
22. A Winter of Waiting
23. Hongkong
24. The Yangtze Campaign
25. China Opened

Appendix: Calcutta Opium
A Note on Sources

South and East Asia
Gulf of Canton
The Factories
China in the Early Nineteenth Century
Chusan and the Yangtze
Canton and Vicinity

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