PositiveThe New York Review of BooksStephen Platt’s Imperial Twilight: The Opium War and the End of China’s Last Golden Age may be the first book for general readers about the decline of the Qing before 1850 ... So what happened? Platt’s story highlights blunders, personal dramas, and other contingencies, especially among the British. As more systemic explanations, he notes an increasing British obsession with \'national honor,\' especially after Napier’s death, but places the most emphasis on a broader shift in attitudes toward China, from near awe in 1759 to near contempt by 1839 ... a close-up view like the one Platt offers is not necessarily the most useful, and is insufficient by itself. Some meanings that later commentators imposed on the war...are historically inaccurate and perhaps politically harmful as well. Other wide-angle views, however, remain quite illuminating ... Platt’s book adds many interesting details to the drama of 1839, but it does not greatly change the larger story of Western intrusion or of Qing decline.