The Arrow War (1856–60) involved all the world's major powers, and could almost be called a world war because of the global economic and diplomatic issues driving it. For twenty-five years Dr John Wong has been trying to discover the true origins of the war. What began as a study of an alleged insult to the British flag supposedly flying over the boat Arrow led to an analysis of complex Chinese and British diplomacy; of the even more complex Chinese tea and silk exports; of British India's jealously guarded economic strategies and opium monopoly; of cotton supplied to the Lancashire mills by the Americans, who thereby made up their trade deficit with China occasioned by their heavy purchases of tea; of intricate Westminster politics and British global trade; of French pride and cultural priorities; of Russian intrigues and territorial designs; and of America's apparent aloofness and real ambitions.
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'… an exhaustively researched and thoroughly documented study that unravels British and Chinese intentions, perceptions, and reactions, their diplomatic and economic agendas, the impact of personalities, popular opinion, and (in the case of Britain) the press, as well as the roles which other powers played. Deadly Dreams should be required reading for historians of modern China, modern imperialism, and modern India.' Economic History Review
'The book is a tour de force of evidence and argument … Wong's book has without doubt, now become the standard work on the Arrow war and will certainly become mandatory reading for students of Chinese and British imperial history … this excellent study is indispensable to all future research on Ottoman economic history.' Journal of Asiatic Studies
'Wong's Deadly Dreams is a masterly piece of research which will set standards for years to come. Wong offers what could be described as an updated version of histoire totale, which starts from the evenementielle and moves towards the larger structures of the global economy. Wong's book is in some respects reminiscent of Braudel's Mediterranean, with its exciting mixture of in-depth study of the 'world system' of the British empire, and detective-like attention for individuals and details.' The Historical Journal
'J. Y. Wong, in this excellent account that left no record unturned, has come out with the clearest statement on why, all said, that war might yet be simply described as the result of opium trading.' Journal of Oriental Studies
'Wong's monumental study and the industry over many years it represents must command respect. it is unlikely that anyone will produce a more comprehensive investigation of the Arrow War or trawl so painstakingly through the awesome mass of sources.' Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History
Wong reveals the extent of Britain's reliance on the opium and tea trade with China, and argues that Victorian free trade ideology was a less decisive factor in the Arrow War (1856–60) than was Britain's economic struggle to support a vast colonial enterprise.
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