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The Opium Wars

The Addiction of One Empire and the Corruption of Another


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A fascinating look at the other side of the Opium Wars

In this tragic and powerful story, the two Opium Wars of 1839–1842 and 1856–1860 between Britain and China are recounted for the first time through the eyes of the Chinese as well as the Imperial West. Opium entered China during the Middle Ages when Arab traders brought it into China for medicinal purposes. As it took hold as a recreational drug, opium wrought havoc on Chinese society. By the early nineteenth century, 90 percent of the Emperor’s court and the majority of the army were opium addicts.

Britain was also a nation addicted—to tea, grown in China, and paid for with profits made from the opium trade. When China tried to ban the use of the drug and bar its Western smugglers from it gates, England decided to fight to keep open China’s ports for its importation. England, the superpower of its time, managed to do so in two wars, resulting in a drug-induced devastation of the Chinese people that would last 150 years.

In this page-turning, dramatic and colorful history, The Opium Wars responds to past, biased Western accounts by representing the neglected Chinese version of the story and showing how the wars stand as one of the monumental clashes between the cultures of East and West.

"A fine popular account."—Publishers Weekly

"Their account of the causes, military campaigns and tragic effects of these wars is absorbing, frequently macabre and deeply unsettling."—Booklist

Product Details

  • Paperback
  • Size: 6 in x 9 in
  • Pages: 352

About the Author

Historian and educator Dr. W. Travis Hanes III is an internationally recognized expert on nineteenth-century Britain, and holds a doctorate in British Imperial History from the University of Texas at Austin, where he received the prestigious Lathrop Prize for best doctoral dissertation. Dr. Hanes has written several books, including two popular textbooks, and has served on the faculty of the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, Southwestern University and Southwest Texas State University.
Frank Sanello is the author of 15 books on films and history. He was the film critic for the Los Angeles Daily News, and his articles have been syndicated worldwide. Both authors live in Los Angeles, California.
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