In 1793, Lord George Macartney and an enormous delegation—including diplomats, doctors, scholars, painters, musicians, soldiers, and aristocrats—entered Beijing on a mission to open China to British trade. But Macartney’s famous refusal to perform the traditional kowtow before the Chinese Emperor was just one sign that the two empires would not see eye to eye, and the trade talks failed. The inability to develop a trade relation would have enormous consequences for future relations between China and the West. Peyrefitte’s vivid narrative of this fascinating encounter is based on extraordinary source materials from each side—including the charming and candid diary of Thomas Staunton, the son of one of Macartney’s aides. An example of history at its finest, The Immobile Empire recaptures the extraordinary experience of two great empires in collision, sizing each other up for the first time.
About Alain Peyrefitte
Alain Peyrefitte was a French scholar, politician, and author. He had a long career in public service, serving as a diplomat in Germany and Poland and as minister of information and minister of justice. He became a member of the Académie française in 1977. He is the author of several books including The Immobile Empire and The Trouble with France.
Praise for Alain Peyrefitte's The Immobile Empire:
“A fascinating study of cross-cultural misunderstanding.” —The Chicago Tribune
“A rollicking good story with obvious and immediate parallels for today.” —The American Spectator
“Extraordinary . . . at once a marvelous adventure tale, a dramatic reenactment of a decisive confrontation between East and West and a revealing comparative study of two cultures, each believing itself the world’s most civilized.” —Publishers Weekly
“An elegant, illuminating and delightful book.” —South Florida Sun-Sentinel
“Painstakingly researched, gracefully written. . . . A smooth translation. . . . Peyrefitte's nearly day-by-day account will fascinate Sinologists and students of East-West affairs.” —Kirkus Reviews