About the Book :
In October 1839, a few months after the Chinese Imperial Commissioner, Lin Zexu, dispatched these confident words to his emperor, a Cabinet meeting in Windsor voted to fight Britains first Opium War (183942) with China. The conflict turned out to be rich in tragicomedy: in bureaucratic fumblings, military missteps, political opportunism and collaboration. Yet over the past hundred and seventy years, this strange tale of misunderstanding, incompetence and compromise has become the founding myth of modern Chinese nationalism: the start of Chinas heroic struggle against a Western conspiracy to destroy the country with opium and gunboat diplomacy. The Opium War is both the story of modern Chinastarting from this first conflict with the Westand an analysis of the countrys contemporary self-image. It explores how Chinas national myths mould its interactions with the outside world, how public memory is spun to serve the present; and how delusion and prejudice on both sides have bedevilled its relationship with the modern West.
About the Author :
Julia Lovell teaches modern Chinese history at Birkbeck College, University of London. She is the author of The Great Wall: China Against the World and The Politics of Cultural Capital: Chinas Quest for a Nobel Prize in Literature and writes on China for the Guardian, the Independent and the Times Literary Supplement. Her many translations of modern Chinese fiction include, most recently, Lu Xuns The Real Story of Ah-Q, and Other Tales of China.