As the title states this book is all about the Chinese tradition of opium use. The author covers the history of how opium came to China, the involvement of the British and what lead to the opium wars. Further the production and harvesting process is explained in detail. The use of opium in the medical industry as well as the suppression of it by the pharmaceutical industry is also covered. The author gives a lot of factual information which seems to be biased towards the use of opium but does on the other hand mention risks of addiction clearly and states that the use of opium is a personal choice to be made. What makes this book a great read however is not the factual information but the way the book draws the reader into the mystical world of Chinese opium culture. Filled with literary quotes from famous opium users and superb sociological insights Peter Lee uses a captivating narrative to explain in great detail the paraphernalia, process and cultural aspects of opium use in ancient China. Overall it is a great book to read, full of historic, politic and anthropolic information. This book goes beyond the description of opium as a simple drug and is a great eye-opener. Sometimes it seems as if Lee is trying to turn the reader into a devoted opium smoker but this is not true. While the author certainly thinks that opium smoking should be a personal choice equal space is given to the positive and negative sides of the drug. I can only recommend this book for anyone interested in opium be it from a medical, recreational or especially historical and cultural aspect.