Sometimes book titles flash up before my eyes and I just know that I’m going to buy them and so, probably, are a lot of regular China Rhyming readers – I suggest that Eric Jay Dolin’s When America First Met China: An Exotic History of Tea, Drugs and Money During the Age of Sail is one such – I mean, come on – China, a cuppa, some drugs and sailing the high seas – how can I note immediately hit “add to basket”
Brilliantly illuminating one of the least-understood areas of American history, best-selling author Eric Jay Dolin now traces our fraught relationship with China back to its roots: the unforgiving nineteenth-century seas that separated a brash, rising naval power from a battered ancient empire. It is a prescient fable for our time, one that surprisingly continues to shed light on our modern relationship with China. Indeed, the furious trade in furs, opium, and bêche-de-mer–a rare sea cucumber delicacy–might have catalyzed America’s emerging economy, but it also sparked an ecological and human rights catastrophe of such epic proportions that the reverberations can still be felt today. Peopled with fascinating characters–from the “Financier of the Revolution” Robert Morris to the Chinese emperor Qianlong, who considered foreigners inferior beings–this page-turning saga of pirates and politicians, coolies and concubines becomes a must-read for any fan of Nathaniel Philbrick’s Mayflower or Mark Kurlansky’s Cod. Two maps, and 16 pages of color and 83 black-and-white illustrations.
About the Author
Eric Jay Dolin is the author of Leviathan: The History of Whaling In America, which was chosen as one of the best nonfiction books of 2007 by The Los Angeles Times and The Boston Globe, and also won a number of awards, including the 2007 John Lyman Award for U. S. Maritime History and the twenty-third annual L. Byrne Waterman Award, given by the New Bedford Whaling Museum, for outstanding contributions to whaling research and history. His most recent book is Fur, Fortune, and Empire: The Epic History of the Fur Trade (W. W. Norton, July 2010), a national bestseller, was chosen by New West, The Seattle Times, and The Rocky Mountain Land Library as one of the top non-fiction books of 2010. A graduate of Brown, Yale, and MIT, where he received his Ph.D. in environmental policy, he lives in Marblehead, Massachusetts, with his wife and two children.