Spies and Scholars: Chinese Secrets and Imperial Russia's Quest for World Power (Paperback)

Spies and Scholars: Chinese Secrets and Imperial Russia's Quest for World Power By Gregory Afinogenov Cover Image

Spies and Scholars: Chinese Secrets and Imperial Russia's Quest for World Power (Paperback)

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A Financial Times Book of the Year
Gold Medal in World History, Independent Publisher Book Awards

"Superb...At once a history of science, of empire, and of espionage, the book traces the rise of the Russian empire as a putative rival to Qing dynasty China in the Far East. Afinogenov has chosen a genuinely compelling cast of characters to populate this story of imperial intrigue."--New Rambler

"The history of Sino-Russian relations appears in a much-altered light thanks to Gregory Afinogenov's impressive new book...It is a little-known story, and he] tells it beautifully."--Tony Barber, Financial Times

"Reads like a detective novel...a tour de force that offers new information about the rise of empires and the globalization of the world."--Journal of Jesuit Studies

Beginning in the seventeenth century, Russian officials made a concerted effort to collect information about the Qing dynasty in China. From diplomatic missions in the Forbidden City to remote outposts on the border, Russian spies and scholars collected trade secrets, recipes for porcelain, and gossip about the country and its leaders--but the information was secret, not destined for wide circulation.

Focused at first on the Siberian frontier, tsarist bureaucrats relied on spies, some of whom were Jesuit scholars stationed in China. When their attention shifted to Europe in the nineteenth century, they turned to more public-facing means to generate knowledge, including diplomatic and academic worlds, which would ultimately inform the broader encounter between China and Western empires. Peopled with a colorful cast of characters and based on extensive archival research in Russia and beyond, Spies and Scholars is a dramatic tale of covert machinations that breaks down long-accepted assumptions about the connection between knowledge and imperial power.
Product Details ISBN: 9780674294035
ISBN-10: 0674294033
Publisher: Belknap Press
Publication Date: December 12th, 2023
Pages: 384
Language: English