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It is the early 19th century, when European traders and adventurers first began to penetrate the forbidding Chinese mainland. And it is in this exciting time and exotic place that a giant of an...
It is the early 19th century, when European traders and adventurers first began to penetrate the forbidding Chinese mainland. And it is in this exciting time and exotic place that a giant of an...
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  • It is the early 19th century, when European traders and adventurers first began to penetrate the forbidding Chinese mainland. And it is in this exciting time and exotic place that a giant of an Englishman, Dirk Straun, sets out to turn the desolate island of Hong Kong into an impregnable fortress of British power, and to make himself supreme ruler...Tai-Pan!

    From the Trade Paperback edition.
  • Chapter One "A pox on this stinking island," Brock said, staring around the beach and up at the mountains. "The whole of China at our feets and all we takes be this barren, sodding rock."

    He was standing on the foreshore with two of his fellow China traders. Scattered about them were other clusters of traders, and officers from the expeditionary force. They were all waiting for the Royal Navy officer to begin the ceremony. An honor guard of twenty marines was drawn up in two neat lines beside the flagpole, the scarlet of their uniforms a sudden splash of color. Near them were the untidy knots of sailors who had just fought the flagpole into the stony soil.

    "Eight bells were time to raise the flag," Brock said, his voice rasping with impatience. "It be an hour past. Wot's godrotting delay for?"

    "It's bad joss to curse on a Tuesday, Mr. Brock," Jeff Cooper said. He was a lean, hook-nosed American from Boston, his frock coat black and his felt top hat set at a jaunty angle. "Very bad!"
    Cooper's partner, Wilf Tillman, stiffened slightly, feeling the underlying edge to the younger man's nasal voice. He was thickset and ruddy, and came from Alabama.

    "I'll tell thee right smartly, this whole godrotting flyspeck be bad joss!" Brock said. "Joss" was a Chinese word that meant Luck and Fate and God and the Devil combined. "Godrotting bad."

    "It better not be, sir," Tillman said. "The future of the China trade's here now--good joss or bad joss."

    Brock stared down at him. "Hong Kong's got no future. It's open ports on the China mainland we be needing, and you knowed it, by God!"

    "The harbor's the best in these waters," Cooper said. "Plenty of room to careen and refit all our ships. Plenty of room to build our homes and warehouses. And no Chinese interference at long last."

    "A colony's got to have arable land and peasants to work the land, Mr. Cooper. An' revenue," Brock said impatiently. "I be walking all over and so have you. Not a crop'll grow here. There be no fields or streams, no grazing land. So no meat and no spuds. Everything we be needing'll have to come by sea. Think of the cost. Why, even the fishing be rotten. An' who's to pay upkeep of Hong Kong, eh? Us and our trade, by God!"

    "Oh, that's the sort of colony you want, Mr. Brock?" Cooper said. "I thought the British Empire"--he spat deftly to windward--"had enough of that sort of colony."

    Brock's hand strayed near his knife. "Be you spitting to clear yor throat, or spitting on the Empire?" Tyler Brock was nearing fifty, a big, one-eyed man as hard and as permanent as the iron he had been forced to peddle in Liverpool as a youth, and as strong and as dangerous as the fighting merchant ships he had escaped to and at length had come to rule as head of Brock and Sons. His clothes were rich and the knife at his belt was jeweled. His beard was graying like his hair.

    "It's a cold day, Mr. Brock," Tillman said quickly, inwardly angry at his young partner's loose tongue. Brock was no man to bait, and they could not afford open enmity with him yet. "Plenty of chill on the wind, eh, Jeff?"

    Cooper nodded briefly. But he did not take his eyes off Brock. He had no knife, but there was a derringer in his pocket. He was of a height with Brock but slighter, and unafraid.

    "I be givin' thee piece of advice, Mr. Cooper," Brock said. "Best not spit too often after saying 'British Empire.' There be some wot baint be givin' thee benefit of doubt."

    "Thank you, Mr. Brock, I'll remember," Cooper replied easily. "And I'll give you some advice: It's bad joss to curse on a Tuesday."

    Brock suppressed his temper. Eventually he would crush Cooper and Tillman and...
About the Author-
  • James Clavell, who died in 1994, was a screenwriter, director, producer, and novelist born in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. Although he wrote the screenplays for a number of acclaimed films, including The Fly (1958), The Great Escape (1963), and To Sir With Love (1967), he is best known for his epic novels in his Asian Saga.

    From the Paperback...

  • Chicago Tribune "Unforgettable!"
  • Baltimore Sun "A fabulous epic of the Far East that will disturb and excite you...a thrilling and enticing tale of adventure and human relationships...dramatic episodes, exotic vignettes and heady descriptive passages."
  • Cosmopolitan "Clavell is, as always, a matchless tale-spinner."
  • Pittsburgh Press "Every five or six years there appears on the horizon a book so vast in scope, so peopled with bold, colorful characters, it eclipses other efforts.... Such a book is Tai-Pan."
  • New York Times "Grand entertainment...packed with action...gaudy and flanboyant with blood and sin, treachery and conspiracy, sex and murder...fresh and vigorous."
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    Random House Publishing Group
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