Smoke And Ashes by Amitav Ghosh
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When Amitav Ghosh began the research for his monumental cycle of novels, The Ibis Trilogy, ten years ago, 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 an essay in 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, Ghosh reveals the role that one small plant had in the making of our world, now teetering on the edge of catastrophe.
The Booker-shortlisted author of the Ibis trilogy explores the impact of opium on global history, economies, cultures, and his own understanding of self.
About the Author: Amitav Ghosh is the author of the bestselling Ibis trilogy, comprised of Sea of Poppies (short-listed for the 2008 Man Booker Prize), River of Smoke, and Flood of Fire. His other novels include The Circle of Reason, which won the Prix Medicis etranger, and The Glass Palace. He is the author of many works of nonfiction, including The Great Derangement: Climate Change and the Unthinkable and The Nutmeg’s Curse: Parables for a Planet in Crisis. He holds two lifetime achievement awards and four honorary doctorates. In 2015, he was named as a finalist of the Man Booker International Prize. In 2018, Ghosh became the first English-language writer to receive the Jnanpith Award, India’s highest literary honor. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.
15 Feb 2024
Paperback / softback
General (US: Trade)
15 Feb 2024
Smoke And Ashes: Opium Hidden Histories by Amitav Ghosh ISBN 9781529349252