The Lion and the Dragon

Hardcover / ISBN-13: 9781474610186

Price: £22

Disclosure: If you buy products using the retailer buttons above, we may earn a commission from the retailers you visit.

‘Lawrence James is the doyen of Empire historians’ The Spectator

‘James’ writing is always full of energy and animation; he has an excellent eye for revealing detail’ William Dalrymple

‘James has a genius for detail’ A.N. Wilson

Britain and China share a rich, complex history. From the dramatic events of the First Opium War to the modern-day implications of the handover of Hong Kong, The Lion and the Dragon delves into the turbulent relationship between these two global powers.

Charting the rise and fall of the British empire alongside the growth of China’s powers, acclaimed historian Lawrence James unravels the intricate threads of British colonialism, China’s struggle for sovereignty, and the impact of global events on their complex interplay. He follows the parallel trajectories of four competitive empires – the British, the Chinese, the Russian and the Japanese – during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, and then the fortunes of a fifth imperial power, the United States. In doing so, he paints a vivid picture of the interactions, alliances and conflicts between the two nations over almost two centuries, from imperial ambitions and cultural clashes to economic interests and political manoeuvrings.

Deeply researched and compellingly told, The Lion and the Dragon is an exploration of the tumultuous history between two powerful nations, providing crucial insights into a relationship that continues to shape the world today.


Fascinating . . . 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 . . . James's grasp of modern Japan's relationship with China is strong and - as with all his scholarship in this book - lightly worn . . . a pithy, eminently accessible study
The Telegraph
James can't write a dull sentence . . . Whether he is describing the Indian mutiny or the Suez crisis, the expansion of Africa or the little local difficulty in the American colonies, James has a genius for detail
A.N. Wilson
Lawrence James is the doyen of Empire historians
Philip Hensher, The Spectator
James never loses sight of his grand design, yet he still finds room for the telling detail which illuminates and enriches a narrative
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 . . . illuminating . . . a highly readable summary of the Chinese encounter with the whole of the modern world
Philip Snow, Literary Review
James' writing is always full of energy and animation; he has an excellent eye for revealing detail, and yet is not afraid to attempt the broad, magisterial sweep
William Dalrymple, Sunday Times
James writes with energy and flair . . . an entertaining and accessible introduction
Yuan Yi Zhu, The Times
With deceptive ease James charts the ups and down of Sino-British relations over the last 200 years in a highly readable 200 pages . . . Judicious and never dull, The Lion and the Dragon is essential reading
John Keay, author of CHINA: A HISTORY