A gripping story – The Qing Empire and the Opium War: The Collapse of the Heavenly Dynasty

Mao has written an interesting book based on Chinese and Japanese sources, but it does not deserve 5 stars { not the fault of Mao} for these reasons below .

This book on the first Opium war was written in 1995 and translated into English in 2005. You will not find the fact that it was written in 1995 disclosed in the publishing history page of the book.

Cambridge University Press published this “updated” edition in 2016 according to this paperback edition. Sadly, CUP failed to disclose what were the updates. The translator’s preface and Introduction to the English edition, again did not disclose the dates of these 2 works. CUP should realise that history books should disclose such dates even if it makes a book dated and hence not so saleable as years go by.

Another serious lack of effort was the reproduction of battle maps all in Mandarin characters in an English translation !

On the book itself, Mao examined Qing’s munitions and hardware, the quality of Qing troops and its leadership, the inability of the Qing armies to be quickly reinforced by troops stationed elsewhere due to poor transport to conclude that Qing can never win despite the best leadership.

Mao also examined Chinese officers’ memorials to the Daoguang emperor which revealed that Qing saw the suppression of the opium trade and consumption as a purely domestic problem and never expected Britain to invade to protect its illegal opium trade.

Mao further examined Chinese and Japanese sources on historical figures like Kisan, Lin Zexu, the Daoguang emperor, the infamous Charles Elliot, Lord Palmerston a ” man captivated by pursuit of power and Henry Pottinger .”

Mao, however, failed to examine the scenario that if the Daoguang emperor had adopted Chiang kai shek’s NO SURRENDER and no compromise strategy, Britain would have lost the war ultimately.

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