2013 Cundill Lecture, From 2012 Cundill Prize Winner Stephen R. Platt
"Imperial Eclipse: The Long Road to the First Anglo-Chinese War"
The Opium War, or First Anglo-Chinese War, of 1839-1842 has long served historians as the chosen starting point for China’s modern history, the launching point of its “century of humiliation” from which successive governments have promised redemption. But such treatment sets the war in stone, as if China’s military weakness and Britain’s predatory aggression in Canton were eternal and unchanging facts.
A fascinating account of what is described as the most destructive civil war in the modern world has captured the richest prize for historical literature.
The 2012 Cundill Prize in History at McGill jury has announced its short list of contending books, selecting three from the long list of six among 143 works submitted this year by publishers from all over the globe. The competition, now in its fifth year, features a $75,000 U.S. grand prize, representing the world’s most lucrative international award for a nonfiction book.