Empires of Coal: An Interview

Shellen Wu’s new book is a fascinating and timely contribution to the histories of China, science, technology, and the modern world. Empires of Coal: Fueling China’s Entry into the Modern World Order, 1860-1920 (Stanford University Press, 2015) brings readers into the nineteenth century industrialization of China, when coal became the “fuel of a ‘new’ imperialism.” Wu’s book asks how China came to matter in a new modern world order of the nineteenth century that was built on a perception that coal was a measure of a country’s standing in the world. We talked about it for the New Books in East Asian Studies podcast and you can find that conversation here.