Using archival materials newly available in China and records in Britain and the US, Robert Bickers paints a detailed portrait of the traders, missionaries, businessmen, diplomats and settlers who constituted "Britain-in-China." Bickers argues that the British presence in China was dominated by urban settlers whose primary allegiance lay not with any grand imperial design but with their own communities and precarious livelihoods. This brought them into growing conflict with the Chinese population and the British imperial government. Bickers goes on to examine how the British state and its allies brought an end to the reign of freelance, settler imperialism on the China coast. At the same time, other British sectors, missionary and business, renegotiated their own relationship with their Chinese markets and the Chinese state and distanced themselves from the settler British.