Lion and Dragon
Lawrence James

Lion and Dragon

This is the history of a clash of civilisations and a spectacular reversal of fortunes. In 1839 Britain went to war with China: it saw itself as the advance guard of a superior civilisation, the first industrial nation with a duty to  extend the blessings of Europe's intellectual, scientific and technical to the rest of the world. Free Trade was part of the package, China too saw itself as the superior civilisation which rested on quietism and a reverence for tradition. China lost the Opium war and Britain took charge of China's reluctant passage into the modern world and drew the country into its unofficial empire of coercive persuasion and influence. Within a hundred and fifty years the positions of the two powers had been reversed. Britain's empire disappeared and her global power was greatly diminished. Now, China takes Britain's place as an inventive, industrial superpower and offers Britain investment and technology. The history of this transformation is a dramatic and bloody narrative of rebellions, wars, and diplomatic chicanery which traumatised China and shaped her contemporary view of the world and her position in it. Every Chinese boy and girls learns the history of the unequal treaties and invasions their country endured and their memory still drives China's relations with the world, in particulae the former world. The Lion and the Dragon will be essential reading for everyone who travels to China for business or pleasure.

Book Details:

  • Author: Lawrence James
  • On Submission
  • Rights Sold
    • UK: Weidenfeld
Lawrence James

Lawrence James

Lawrence James was a founder member of York University and then took a research degree at Merton College, Oxford. After a distinguished teaching career he became a full-time writer in 1985 and has emerged as one of the outstanding narrative historians of his generation. His books include Crimea: The War with Russia in Contemporary Photographs, The Savage Wars: British Campaigns in Africa 1870-1920, Mutiny: Mutinies in British and Commonwealth Forces 1797-1956 and Imperial Rearguard: The Last Wars of Empire.Lawrence James edited the Daily Telegraph British Empire supplement (1997) and was th...
More about Lawrence James

Book Reviews

  • "  What helps The Lion and the Dragon to stand out is its brevity and brisk pace. A master of distillation, James covers just under 200 years of history in approximately the same number of pages. He does so while keeping his account broad and generally balanced, leaving it to readers to reach their own conclusions about the history itself and what it might mean for the future of Sino-British ties. …James’s grasp of modern Japan’s relationship with China is strong and – as with all his scholarship in this book – lightly worn "
    Daily Telegraph
  • "Other writers have explored particular aspects of Sino-British interactions, but James has come the closest to providing a continuous account of this relationship for a general readership, and as such his book is to be welcomed….the book provides a highly readable summary of the Chinese encounter with the whole of the modern world."
    Literary Review
  • "With deceptive ease Lawrence James charts the ups and down of Sino-British relations over the last 200 years in a highly readable 200 pages. Recent scholarship is used to advantage and the pieties of today's empire revisionists acknowledged, if not endorsed. Judicious and never dull The Lion and the Dragon is essential reading."
    John Keay
  • "an entertaining and accessible introduction to the topic."