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When America First Met China: An Exotic History of Tea, Drugs, and Money in the Age of Sail (Hardcover)
When the United States was recovering from the War for Independence, trade was the answer and China was where the money lay. The U.S. had ginseng, furs, silver, and sandalwood; China had porcelain ware, silk, and tea, to which the new country was addicted. China was a sophisticated country of 300 million people with a rich history of discovery and invention. The U.S. was an agrarian society of two million. The voyage between them was long and dangerous, and there was no shortage of competition. This entertaining book follows the adventures of the brave people who set sail, first in small slow boats and later in the swift clippers. It is a highly informative and well written look at how the first millionaires made their fortunes. ~ Rodie— From Rodie
Brilliantly illuminating one of the least-understood areas of American history, best-selling author Eric Jay Dolin now traces our fraught relationship with China back to its roots: the unforgiving nineteenth-century seas that separated a brash, rising naval power from a battered ancient empire. It is a prescient fable for our time, one that surprisingly continues to shed light on our modern relationship with China. Indeed, the furious trade in furs, opium, and beche-de-mer a rare sea cucumber delicacy might have catalyzed America's emerging economy, but it also sparked an ecological and human rights catastrophe of such epic proportions that the reverberations can still be felt today. Peopled with fascinating characters from the Financier of the Revolution Robert Morris to the Chinese emperor Qianlong, who considered foreigners inferior beings this page-turning saga of pirates and politicians, coolies and concubines becomes a must-read for any fan of Nathaniel Philbrick's Mayflower or Mark Kurlansky's Cod.