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Dragon Wakes

China and the West, 1793-1911

By (author) Christopher Hibbert
Genres: Sociology
Format: Hardback
Publisher: Prentice Hall Europe (a Pearson Education company), London, United Kingdom
Imprint: Prentice Hall Press
Published: 7th Sep 1970
Dimensions: w 150mm h 230mm
ISBN-10: 0582108063
ISBN-13: 9780582108066
Barcode No: 9780582108066

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Kirkus US
Hibbert's nineteenth book, and his first on China, this reflects his previous preoccupation with military history. It begins with Lord Macartney's attempt to establish a British embassy in China in 1793, which Hibbert reconstructs in detail from primary sources. Through successive attempts to push diplomatic relations - Lord Amherst's mission, the Canton trade, the Opium Wars and finally the suppression of Taipings and Boxers - the book exhibits a subdued jolly-old-England viewpoint. Good and bad Chinese are differentiated according to their pleasantness and their ability to discern that the Western "barbarians'" opium trade was largely a matter of supplying a market (though of course the British made serious attempts to diversify their trade). The siege of the Pearl River and Taku forts, the treasures of the Orient, the quaint ways of the Manchus (including torture of Westerners) are graphically described; looting and native-hunting forays by Western troops are alluded to with a minimum of detail, perhaps in deference to Occidental sensibilities. A lack of understanding of the Chinese reform movements of the 1870's-'90's allows Hibbert to overgeneralize about the Boxers, whom he characterizes as anti-foreign, anti-Christian zealots with a penchant for dismembering their victims. It's a very readable sound-and-fury narrative romance, not a serious study: its audience is rather hard to specify. When the book ends abruptly with Sun Yat-sen's election as President of the Chinese Republic in 1911, the reader is left wondering where the narrative has led him. (Kirkus Reviews)