Eric Jay Dolin talks with Rob about his newest book: When America First Met China – An exotic history of tea, drugs, and money in the age of sail. Colonial Americans were hooked on China’s high-tech instruments of leisure, which included high-priced teas, silks, rhubarb, porcelains and lacquer-wear. To feed American consumerism, US traders went to the ends of the world, over-exploiting people and natural resources – especially seals, sea otters, sandalwood and sea cucumbers. Our voracious appetite for China-built goods drove the tragedy of our commons, the taking of public resources at a global scale. Dolin helps us better understand our trading with China long ago and what informs China’s understanding of us today. Our relationship with China began in 1784, when the Empress of China cleared New York Harbor. The exploding demand for goods and rush for items to trade led a driven Stonington sealer to discover Antarctica in a ridiculously small boat. Foreign trade has always come with benefits and detriments.