Five Months on the Yang-Tsze: With a Narrative of the Exploration of Its Upper Waters and Notices of the Present Rebellions in China

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Thomas Wright Blakiston (1832-1891) was an army officer, explorer and naturalist who served with the British forces in Ireland, Nova Scotia and the Crimea before being posted to Canton during the second Opium War in 1859. While in Canton, Blakiston organised an expedition up the Yangtsze river and Five Months on the Yang-tsze (1862) is his account of his experiences navigating 'one of the greatest rivers in the world a distance of eighteen hundred miles'. Despite the region being subject to extensive insurgency, Blakiston was able to travel 900 miles further up the river than any European before him except Jesuits wearing local attire. His narrative, divided into nineteen chapters with illustrations by Alfred Barton, contains many observations relating to the politically volatile situation in China as well as descriptions of the local landscape, flora and fauna. It remained the standard account of the region for fifty years.