© 2004

Opium, Soldiers and Evangelicals

England’s 1840–42 War with China and its Aftermath

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-x
  2. Harry G. Gelber
    Pages 1-18
  3. Harry G. Gelber
    Pages 19-39
  4. Harry G. Gelber
    Pages 60-79
  5. Harry G. Gelber
    Pages 80-101
  6. Harry G. Gelber
    Pages 102-124
  7. Harry G. Gelber
    Pages 125-146
  8. Harry G. Gelber
    Pages 147-159
  9. Harry G. Gelber
    Pages 187-202
  10. Harry G. Gelber
    Pages 203-217
  11. Back Matter
    Pages 218-252

About this book


This book questions the universal belief that England's 1840-42 war with China was an 'Opium War'. What really worried London was 'insults to the crown', the claim of a dilapidated and corrupt China to be superior to everyone, threats to British men and women and seizure of British property, plus the wish to expand and free trade everywhere. It was only much later that general Chinese resentment and Evangelical opinion at home - and in America - persuaded everyone that Britain had indeed been wicked and fought for opium.


America Britain China Chinese England Great Britain settlement trade women

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.London School of EconomicsUK

About the authors

HARRY G. GELBER is Professor of History and Political Science and Visiting Research Fellow at the Asian Research Centre, London School of Economics and Political Economy. His publications include Australia, Britain and the EEC, 1961-1963, National Power, Security and Economic Uncertainty, and Sovereignty Through Interdependence.

Bibliographic information


'...timely, intelligent, unprejudiced and readable...this is a work of intellectual as much as diplomatic history and readers will enjoy seeing old orthodoxies subverted and ingrained prejudices dissipated by Dr Gelber's persuasive insinuation of reason.' - Professor S.A.M. Adshead, University of Canterbury, New Zealand

'...a well written, sharp-eyed and thoughtful treatment of a subject which continues to arouse interest and controversy among historians.' - Professor John Gregory, author of The West and China Since 1500

'Harry Gelber shows how opium was only the immediate cause of war in a conflict which was far more about the gulf between British and Chinese views of international order and the rules of trade. I enjoyed reading it immensely.' - Professor Lord William Wallace, London School of Economics and Political Science