When America First Met China, Oct. 25

Eric Jay Dolin

Best selling author, Eric Jay Dolin gives an illustrated talk titled When America First Met China on Thursday, October 25 at 7:00 p.m., in the Whaling Museum’s Cook Memorial Theater. This Samuel D. Rusitzky Lecture is free to the public.

One of the least understood areas of American history, Dolin will trace the United States’ fraught relationship with China back to its roots: the unforgiving nineteenth-century seas that separated a brash, rising naval power from a battered ancient empire.

A desire for trade and profit first brings America to China’s door in a surprising story of intrigue that sheds light on our modern relationship with China. The furious trade in fur, opium, and bêche-de-mer – a rare sea cucumber delicacy – might have catalyzed America’s emerging economy, but it also sparked an ecological and human rights catastrophe of such epic proportions, the reverberations can still be felt today.

Dolin notes “whaling was hardly the only maritime venture that New Bedford men—and women— pur­sued. A relatively small number of New Bedford ships, often at the tail end of whaling and sealing voyages, travelled to China during the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, and brought back trea­sures of the East. Some New Bedford merchants participated in the China trade by investing in ships that left from other ports, especial­ly New York City.”

The author will be available to sign copies of his new book, When America First Met China at 6:00 p.m. in the Jacobs Family Gallery.

Dolin is also author of the bestselling Leviathan: The History of Whaling In America, which was chosen as one of the best nonfiction books of 2007 by The Los Angeles Times, The Boston Globe, and The Providence Journal.

A graduate of Brown, Yale, and MIT, where he received his Ph.D. in environmental policy, he lives in Marblehead, Massachusetts.

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