Ghosh World

A new take on the opium wars

Though trained as an anthropologist at Oxford, Amitav Ghosh now scrutinizes mankind through his fiction. His new novel, River of Smoke, follows 2008's Sea of Poppies as the second volume in his Ibis trilogy, which covers the Opium Wars; in researching it, Ghosh stumbled upon the forgotten history of his native India's role in the sale of opium to China.

Did you always plan to tell the story of the Opium Wars through people who don't show up in history as major actors--factory workers, migrant laborers?

Opium is an aspect of our past that we simply do not know about. We...

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