Imperial Twilight

Stephen R. Platt

RRP: £25.00

7 June 2018

Published by Atlantic Books

ISBN: 9781786494863

RRP: £14.99

7 June 2018

Published by Atlantic Books

ISBN: 9781786494887

When Britain declared war on China in 1839, it sealed the fate of what had been, for centuries, the wealthiest and most powerful empire in the world.China was much weaker than was commonly understood and the war set in motion the fall of the Qing dynasty which, in turn, would lead to the rise of nationalism and communism in the twentieth century.

Beginning with the very first efforts by the British government to ‘open’ China to trade, Stephen Platt tells the epic story of the decades leading up to the war and, given the growing uncertainty in current relations between China and the West, shows how the conflict still has important implications for the world today.


Masterly... Important reading not only for those interested in China's history but also for anyone seeking to understand the explosive intersection between trade and politics today.
Wall Street Journal

Meticulously researched... A rich and finely balanced account of how Britain and China came to blows.John Keay
Literary Review

This thoroughly researched and delightful work is essential for anyone interested in Chinese or British imperial history
Library Journal (Starred Review)

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... Platt's research is impeccably presented in this winning history of British and Chinese trade.
Publishers Weekly

Clear writing and an excellent sense of story and scene-setting mark Platt's reexamination of the causes of the First Opium War... 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.
Booklist (starred review)

A deeply researched study of an early clash of civilizations, when England attempted to impose its will on East Asia... A fluent, well-written exercise in revisionism.
Kirkus Reviews