Imperial Twilight: The Opium War

Imperial Twilight: The Opium War

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The definitive history of the Opium War between Britain and China in the nineteenth century, shortlisted for the 2018 Baillie Gifford Prize. By Stephen R. Platt. 

In 1839 Britain embarked on the first of its wars with China, sealing the fate of the most prosperous and powerful empire in Asia, if not the world. Motivated by drug profiteering and free-trade interests, the Opium War helped shaped the China we know today, sparking the eventual fall of the Qing dynasty and the rise of nationalism and communism in the twentieth century.

Imperial Twilight is a riveting and revealing account of the end of China’s Golden Age and the origins of one of the most unjust wars in history.


560 pages

Discover our collection of book titles that explore Trade, Empire and Migration from the National Maritime Museum.  

A Financial Times Book of the Year
A Sunday Times Book of the Year 
‘Entertaining and well-paced… Platt’s compelling book is a sobering read that should focus the minds of those who like to talk of the achievements of the Victorian age without thinking about how those were achieved, or how they were funded.’ Peter Frankopan, Spectator

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