top of page
Awards and Reviews for When America First Met China:


Chosen by Kirkus Reviews as one of the top 100 nonfiction books of 2013.


Winner for history, Next Generation Indie Book Awards, 2013.


Gold Medal, History, Independent Publisher Book Award, 2013.


2013 Highly Recommended Book, The Boston Authors Club.


Finalist, New England Society Book Award, 2013.


"Entertaining, informative and highly readable book. . . .  This remarkably complex story . . . is remarkably well told by Mr. Dolin, who is in complete command of the material. If a major purpose of history is to help us understand the present, the history of the early China trade is essential to understanding today's China as it resumes its place among the foremost nations of the world., you couldn't find a better place to start than When America First Met China." John Steele Gordon -- The Wall Street Journal


"The author, whose grasp of the intricacies of international trade is firm, proceeds confidently and skillfully through a complex narrative. . . . A rich, highly readable examination of the seeds of poppies, trade, greed, grandeur and an international partnership that remains uneasy and perilous." Kirkus Reviews, Starred Review


"Eric Jay Dolins engagingly paced narrative of the early years in the China-America relationship made me smile as I recognized the modern reality in this old tale of the odd couple of statecraft. When America First met China, in fascinating ways tells us much about who we are today" Mark Kurlansky -- Author, Cod and Salt


"Eric Jay Dolins When America First Met China is a smart, riveting history of what has become the most important bilateral relationship in the world. Dolin, a master synthesizer, analyzes the opium trade, ecology, seafaring, and the perfume market in this handsomely rendered book. His insights are durable and profound. An all-around outstanding work of maritime history." Douglas Brinkley -- Author, Cronkite and The Wilderness Warrior


"Lively biographical sketches, intriguing anecdotes and accounts of curious incidents . . .Dolin wrings so much drama, interest and humor out of this early period of U.S.-China relations." Jeffrey Wasserstrom -- Chicago Tribune


"Fascinating and entertaining account of U.S. trade with China . . . Dolin's masterful history of this era goes far to explain China's fierce sense of autonomy today and its sensitivity to Western slights. His work is well-researched, rich in illustrations and full of life." Tom Zelman -- Minneapolis Star Tribune


"wonderfully accessible book . . . VERDICT An ideal book for general readers in popular history or with a historical interest in China's influence on the American economy and general relations between the two countries -- past and present." Susan G. Baird -- Library Journal


"This sweeping popular history . . .  brews up a rich and satisfying narrative of the exotic intersection of the silk, tea, and opium trade and the missionary zeal that characterized Americas engagement with the still mysterious Middle Kingdom in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. With a flair for dramatic and fast-paced storytelling, Dolin provides the reader with nuanced insights into everything from pirates, the world-changing impact of the silk trade, the British-Chinese Opium War of the 1840s, and the fearlessness (and naïveté) of the early missionaries to good oldfashioned tales of adventure on the high seas." Booklist


"The phrase Tea Party resonates in American history and modern politics. Now master storyteller Eric Jay Dolin shows where that tea came from, in this richly rewarding look at the long and stormy often literallyhistory of Americas first encounters with China. As he did for whaling in Leviathan and beaver pelts in Fur, Fortune and Empire, Dolin brings to life the American genius for commerce and its essential connection to how the nation grew. In this case, that commerce involved tea, silk and opium-- and led to some of Americas legendary fortunes, including those of Astor, Whitney, and Delano. As Americas present is increasingly tied to the Chinese economic behemoth, this is a timely and well-told tale." Kenneth C. Davis -- Author, Don't Know Much About® History


"When America First Met China chosen by the Christian Science Monitor as one of 19 fall 2012 nonfiction titles worth checking out" Monitor Staff -- Christian Science Monitor


"Eric Jay Dolin is one of our very finest popular historians, a formidable scholar and stylist of uncommon grace. When America Met China may be his best book yet. Fans of Dolin's majestic history of American whaling, Leviathan, will delight in this brisk narrative of seaborne adventure, in which the nineteenth-century encounter between America and Chinaviolent and exquisite by turnsis as much about present as past. It's all here: tea, opium, raffish characters galore. Not only has Dolin filled a yawning gap in the historical literature; he has initiated a dramatic conversation about perhaps the most significant transcontinental contest of the twenty-first century." Kirk Davis Swinehart -- Author, This Broken House: A Family Undone by the American Revolution

bottom of page