Review of "The Opium War: Drugs, Dreams and the Making of China"

Lovell has taken pains to present a series of lively and precise portraits of the major protagonists of the First Opium War such as the Emperor Daoguang, imperial commissioner Lin Zexu and his Manchu successor Qishan, and on the British side, foreign secretary Lord Palmerston and Chief Superintendent of the China trade Charles Elliot. It is a judicious choice, considering that distance conferred on the actors on the ground much freedom of action: it should be borne in mind that for the British forces, the operation theatre was many months' voyage from the mother country.