As a global shift concentrates economic forces and political sway back to the East, China’s history of collaboration and competition with the West become an important subject of discussion. Stephen R. Platt, a professor of Chinese history at the University of Massachussets Amherst, writes a thrilling take on the history of the infamous Opium Wars, the war that marked the end of China’s Golden Age. The First Opium War (1839-1842) involved disputes between Britain’s opium dealers and Chinese officials as they attempted to eradicate drug usage in the country. The resulting conflict weakened the Qing dynasty to the point that China was forced to trade with new regions, leading to China’s status as the largest economy in the world to be diminished. The century that followed these wars is dubbed the “Century of Humiliation”, as China fell to the hand of Western and Japanese imperialism. While this history takes place over one hundred year ago, Platt ensures that the parallels with today’s trade wars, and China’s regained economic power do not go unnoticed. In particular, he focuses on how individual choices rather than impersonal forces usually play deciding roles in how a history may play out.