Nonfiction by Maurice Collis
First published in 1946, Foreign Mud is a marvelous historical reconstruction of the events surrounding the illegal trade of opium in Canton during the 1830s and the ensuing Opium Wars between Britain and China. Based largely on the voluminous documents written by British doctors, missionaries, merchants, and government officials, Collis’s tale – far from being a dry assemblage of dates and facts – is a fascinating look at British imperialism. Shifting back and forth between the fiery debates in London and the confrontations on the China coast, his story recounts, in all its complexities, a moment in time when China is forced after more than two thousand years of self-contained sufficiency to open its doors to the culture, commerce, and evangelization of the West – the casus belli: the foreign mud, or opium, the Brish grew and shipped from India. Interspersed with various maps, plans, and illustrations, Foreign Mud is a historical narrative readers will find provocatively entertaining.