Smoke And Ashes: Opium's Hidden Histories (Hardback)
  • Smoke And Ashes: Opium's Hidden Histories (Hardback)
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Smoke And Ashes: Opium's Hidden Histories (Hardback)

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Hardback 416 Pages
Published: 15/02/2024
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Waterstones Says

The celebrated novelist and author of the Ibis trilogy explores the transformative effect the opium trade had on the nineteenth-century world and how his own family history is inextricably bound up in the consequences.

When Amitav Ghosh began the research for his monumental cycle of novels the Ibis Trilogy, he was startled to find how the lives of the 19th century sailors and soldiers he wrote of were dictated not only by the currents of the Indian Ocean, but also by the precious commodity carried in enormous quantities on those currents: opium. Most surprising at all, however, was the discovery that his own identity and family history was swept up in the story.

Smoke and Ashes is at once a travelogue, memoir and a history, drawing on decades of archival research. In it, Ghosh traces the transformative effect the opium trade had on Britain, India, and China, as well as the world at large. The trade was engineered by the British Empire, which exported Indian opium to sell to China and redress their great trade imbalance, and its revenues were essential to the Empire's financial survival. Yet tracing the profits further, Ghosh finds opium at the origins of some of the world's biggest corporations, of America's most powerful families and prestigious institutions (from the Astors and Coolidges to the Ivy League), and of contemporary globalism itself.

Moving deftly between horticultural histories, the mythologies of capitalism, and the social and cultural repercussions of colonialism, in Smoke and Ashes Amitav Ghosh reveals the role that one small plant had in making our world, now teetering on the edge of catastrophe.

Publisher: John Murray Press
ISBN: 9781529349245
Number of pages: 416
Weight: 660 g
Dimensions: 238 x 162 x 40 mm


MEDIA REVIEWS

Ghosh has reinvented himself as a superlative commodity historian. In his new role, he has surpassed many seasoned historians in his ability to synthesise a wealth of research with remarkable intellectual clarity and suggestive simplicity . . . There's a quietly subversive element to Smoke and Ashes for which Ghosh deserves to be commended - The Times

The book gave me a deeper chill than any of the TV series about the opioid crisis I had viewed before reading it . . . The writing is sublime, the research thorough, the eye for story superb, and there are splashes of personal back story that underscore the sincerity of the author's arguments - Sunday Telegraph

A riveting new history of opium, a lucrative and destructive flower . . . Amitav Ghosh's sweeping, forcefully written Smoke and Ashes covers centuries in the life of the plant - Washington Post

A sweeping, and personal, account of the immense effect the opium trade has had on world history and how it continues to impact our lives today. - Financial Times

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“Incredible journey”

I was totally immersed in each of the epic books in the Ibis series of novels by Ghosh, He brought the Opium Wars to life in such a vivid way and scenes have stayed with me. I was keen to read this nonfiction... More

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