SHORTLISTED FOR THE 2018 BAILLIE GIFFORD PRIZE 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 ________________________________________ 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.
Platt makes the war the centrepiece of an epic narrative, full of extraordinary characters and unexpected twists... Crucially, Platt sees this as a definitive turning point, which broke China's economic momentum for at least a century and informs its attitude to the West to this day. Author: Dominic Sandbrook Source: Sunday Times, 'Books of the Year'
Platt's excellent new history of China and its relations with Britain and the US in the 50 years up to 1839 could hardly be more timely... Platt writes beautifully, with a novelist's eye for detail. Author: Julia Lovell Source: Guardian
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. Source: Wall Street Journal
[A] superb history... fascinating and beautifully constructed... Platt has written an enthralling account of the run-up to war between Britain and China during a century in which wealth and power were shifting inexorably from East to West... Imperial Twilight is a masterpiece of the "If Only" school of history, which holds out the tantalizing prospect of a world that, with the right choices, could be made perfect. Source: New York Times
With a great canvas to play upon and vivid Western and Chinese sources into which to dip his brush, Platt paints a superbly engaging portrait of Anglo-Chinese relations across five deeply consequential decades. Author: Christopher Harding Source: Daily Telegraph
A lively, captivating book... Platt clearly adores his topic Author: Gerard DeGroot Source: The Times
Meticulously researched... A rich and finely balanced account of how Britain and China came to blows. Author: John Keay Source: Literary Review
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. Author: Peter Frankopan Source: Spectator
Now that China is once again one of the world's great powers, knowing the history of its relationship with the West becomes ever more important. Platt's book makes a scholarly, but enjoyable, contribution to that knowledge. Author: Nick Rennison Source: Daily Mail
This thoroughly researched and delightful work is essential for anyone interested in Chinese or British imperial history Source: Library Journal (Starred Review)