"Mr. Smith Goes to China" by Jessica Hanser

Mr. Smith Goes to China Three Scots in the Making of Britain’s Global Empire Jessica Hanser

Publication date:
23 Jul 2019
Yale University Press
256 pages: 235 x 156mm
20 b-w illus.

An illuminating account of global commerce in the eighteenth-century Indian Ocean world, as seen through the lives of three Scottish traders

This book delves into the lives of three Scottish private traders—George Smith of Bombay, George Smith of Canton, and George Smith of Madras—and uses them as lenses through which to explore the inner workings of Britain’s imperial expansion and global network of trade, revealing how an unstable credit system and financial crisis ultimately led to greater British intervention in India and China.

Jessica Hanser is assistant professor of history at Yale‑NUS College in Singapore. Hanser’s doctoral dissertation, on which this book is based, won Yale University’s Hans Gatzke Prize in European History.

“An original, heroically researched, and fluent study. The careful research and synthetic contexts render the narrative riveting.”--Kathleen Wilson, Stony Brook University

“A foundational study that future scholars of private traders in Asia will need to consult. It is the most detailed comparison and analysis of the connections between India and China at this time. Due to the records being in many different languages and locations, this is extremely difficult research to undertake, which makes it that much more valuable to scholars in this field.”--Paul Van Dyke, Sun-yat Sen University

"In this impressive book, Jessica Hanser opens a fresh window on the British overseas trading world. Written with verve and filled with arresting details, the book tells the true stories of three Scots, all named George Smith, using their experiences to cast new light on imperialism, cross-cultural trade, and global finance in the eighteenth century. This is global microhistory at its finest."--Tonio Andrade, author of The Gunpowder Age