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Goldsboro Books

978-1529349245

Smoke and Ashes

Smoke and Ashes

by Amitav Ghosh

Publisher John Murray

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  • Hardback
  • UK First Edition/First Printing


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About the book

When Amitav Ghosh began the research for his monumental cycle of novels the Ibis Trilogy, he was startled to find how the lives of the 19th century sailors and soldiers he wrote of were dictated not only by the currents of the Indian Ocean, but also by the precious commodity carried in enormous quantities on those currents: opium. Most surprising at all, however, was the discovery that his own identity and family history was swept up in the story.

Smoke and Ashes is at once a travelogue, memoir and a history, drawing on decades of archival research. In it, Ghosh traces the transformative effect the opium trade had on Britain, India, and China, as well as the world at large. The trade was engineered by the British Empire, which exported Indian opium to sell to China and redress their great trade imbalance, and its revenues were essential to the Empire's financial survival. Yet tracing the profits further, Ghosh finds opium at the origins of some of the world's biggest corporations, of America's most powerful families and prestigious institutions (from the Astors and Coolidges to the Ivy League), and of contemporary globalism itself.

Moving deftly between horticultural histories, the mythologies of capitalism, and the social and cultural repercussions of colonialism, in
Smoke and Ashes Amitav Ghosh reveals the role that one small plant had in making our world, now teetering on the edge of catastrophe.

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About the Author

Amitav Ghosh

Amitav Ghosh was born in Calcutta and grew up in India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. He studied in Delhi, Oxford and Alexandria and is the author of The Circle of Reason, The Shadow Lines, In An Antique Land, Dancing In Cambodia, The Calcutta Chromosome, The Glass Palace, The Hungry Tide and The Ibis Trilogy, consisting of Sea of Poppies, River of Smoke and Flood of Fire. His most recent book, The Great Derangement: Climate Change and the Unthinkable, a work of non-fiction, appeared in 2016.


In 2007 he was awarded the Padma Shri, one of India's highest honours, by the President of India. In 2010 he was a joint winner, along with Margaret Atwood of a Dan David prize, and 2011 he was awarded the Grand Prix of the Blue Metropolis festival in Montreal. In 2018 the Jnanpith Award, India’s highest literary honor, was conferred on Amitav Ghosh. He was the first English-language writer to receive the award. In 2019 Foreign Policy magazine named him one of the most important global thinkers of the preceding decade.


Amitav Ghosh's most recent novel, Gun Island, was published in 2019.

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