The Opium War: Drugs, Dreams, and the Making of Modern China

The Overlook Press
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An engaging, highly readable, character-driven account of the war that transformed China, and which continues to loom large over modern Chinese history. In October 1839, a Windsor cabinet meeting votes to begin the first Opium War against China. Bureaucratic fumbling, military missteps, and a healthy dose of political opportunism and collaboration followed. Rich in tragicomedy, The Opium War explores the disastrous British foreign-relations move that became a founding myth of modern Chinese nationalism, and depicts China’s heroic struggle against Western conspiracy. Julia Lovell examines the causes and consequences of the Opium War, interweaving tales of the opium pushers and dissidents. More importantly, she analyses how the Opium Wars shaped China's self-image and created an enduring model for its interactions with the West, plagued by delusion and prejudice.
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About the author

Julia Lovell is an author, translator, and academic. She is the author of the widely acclaimed The Great Wall: China Against the World 1000 BC–AD 2000, which was published in eighteen countries. She has translated many key Chinese works into English, including Lust, Caution by Eileen Chang, The Complete Fiction of Lu Xun, and Serve the People by Yan Lianke. She is a lecturer in modern Chinese history and literature at the University of London and writes for the Guardian, The Times, the Economist, and the Times Literary Supplement. She spends a large part of the year in China with her family.

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Additional Information

Publisher
The Overlook Press
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Published on
Nov 10, 2015
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Pages
512
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ISBN
9781468313239
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Language
English
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Genres
History / Asia / China
History / Asia / General
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Available on Android devices
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An eye-opening and previously untold story, Factory Girls is the first look into the everyday lives of the migrant factory population in China.


China has 130 million migrant workers—the largest migration in human history. In Factory Girls, Leslie T. Chang, a former correspondent for the Wall Street Journal in Beijing, tells the story of these workers primarily through the lives of two young women, whom she follows over the course of three years as they attempt to rise from the assembly lines of Dongguan, an industrial city in China’s Pearl River Delta.

As she tracks their lives, Chang paints a never-before-seen picture of migrant life—a world where nearly everyone is under thirty; where you can lose your boyfriend and your friends with the loss of a mobile phone; where a few computer or English lessons can catapult you into a completely different social class. Chang takes us inside a sneaker factory so large that it has its own hospital, movie theater, and fire department; to posh karaoke bars that are fronts for prostitution; to makeshift English classes where students shave their heads in monklike devotion and sit day after day in front of machines watching English words flash by; and back to a farming village for the Chinese New Year, revealing the poverty and idleness of rural life that drive young girls to leave home in the first place. Throughout this riveting portrait, Chang also interweaves the story of her own family’s migrations, within China and to the West, providing historical and personal frames of reference for her investigation.

A book of global significance that provides new insight into China, Factory Girls demonstrates how the mass movement from rural villages to cities is remaking individual lives and transforming Chinese society, much as immigration to America’s shores remade our own country a century ago.
The City of Abraham is a journey through one of the world’s most divided cities – Hebron, the only place in the West Bank where Palestinians and Israelis live side by side. It begins with a hill called Tel Rumeida, the site of ancient Hebron, where the patriarch Abraham – father of the Jews and the Arabs – was supposed to have lived when he arrived in the Promised Land. Through a mixture of travel writing, reportage and interviews, Platt tells the history of the hill and the city in which it stands, and explores the mythic roots of the struggle to control the land.

He meets the Palestinian residents of Tel Rumeida, and the messianic settlers who have made their homes in a block of flats that stands on stilts on an excavated corner of the site. He meets the archaeologists who have attempted to reconstruct the history of the hill. He meets the soldiers who serve in Hebron, and the intermediaries who try to keep the peace in the divided city. The City of Abraham explores the ways in which Hebron’s past continues to inform its tumultuous present, and illuminates the lives of the people at the heart of the most intractable conflict in the world.

The City of Abraham is a journey through one of the world’s most divided cities – Hebron, the only place in the West Bank where Palestinians and Israelis live side by side.

It begins with a hill called Tel Rumeida, the site of ancient Hebron, where the patriarch Abraham – father of the Jews and the Arabs – was supposed to have lived when he arrived in the Promised Land. Platt tells the history of the hill and the city in which it stands, shares the stories of residents and settlers, and illuminates the mythic roots of the struggle to control the land.

Through a mixture of travel writing, reportage and interviews, The City of Abraham explores the ways in which Hebron’s past continues to inform its tumultuous present.

In the 1980s China s politicians, writers, and academics began to raise an increasingly urgent question: why had a Chinese writer never won a Nobel Prize for literature? Promoted to the level of official policy issue and national complex, Nobel anxiety generated articles, conferences, and official delegations to Sweden. Exiled writer Gao Xingjian s win in 2000 failed to satisfactorily end the matter, and the controversy surrounding the Nobel committee s choice has continued to simmer.

Julia Lovell s comprehensive study of China s obsession spans the twentieth century and taps directly into the key themes of modern Chinese culture: national identity, international status, and the relationship between intellectuals and politics. The intellectual preoccupation with the Nobel literature prize expresses tensions inherent in China s move toward a global culture after the collapse of the Confucian world-view at the start of the twentieth century, and particularly since China s re-entry into the world economy in the post-Mao era. Attitudes toward the prize reveal the same contradictory mix of admiration, resentment, and anxiety that intellectuals and writers have long felt toward Western values as they struggled to shape a modern Chinese identity. In short, the Nobel complex reveals the pressure points in an intellectual community not entirely sure of itself.

Making use of extensive original research, including interviews with leading contemporary Chinese authors and critics, The Politics of Cultural Capital is a comprehensive, up-to-date treatment of an issue that cuts to the heart of modern and contemporary Chinese thought and culture. It will be essential reading for scholars of modern Chinese literature and culture, globalization, post-colonialism, and comparative and world literature.

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A gripping account of China’s nineteenth-century Taiping Rebellion, one of the largest civil wars in history. Autumn in the Heavenly Kingdom brims with unforgettable characters and vivid re-creations of massive and often gruesome battles—a sweeping yet intimate portrait of the conflict that shaped the fate of modern China.
 
The story begins in the early 1850s, the waning years of the Qing dynasty, when word spread of a major revolution brewing in the provinces, led by a failed civil servant who claimed to be the son of God and brother of Jesus. The Taiping rebels drew their power from the poor and the disenfranchised, unleashing the ethnic rage of millions of Chinese against their Manchu rulers. This homegrown movement seemed all but unstoppable until Britain and the United States stepped in and threw their support behind the Manchus: after years of massive carnage, all opposition to Qing rule was effectively snuffed out for generations. Stephen R. Platt recounts these events in spellbinding detail, building his story on two fascinating characters with opposing visions for China’s future: the conservative Confucian scholar Zeng Guofan, an accidental general who emerged as the most influential military strategist in China’s modern history; and Hong Rengan, a brilliant Taiping leader whose grand vision of building a modern, industrial, and pro-Western Chinese state ended in tragic failure.
 
This is an essential and enthralling history of the rise and fall of the movement that, a century and a half ago, might have launched China on an entirely different path into the modern world.
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