The first chapter of Antony Dapiran’s book, “City on Fire: The Fight for Hong Kong,” is a study of tear gas — its effects, both physical and psychological, and its uses throughout history. It sets the tone for what is to follow, a meticulous account of the street protests that roiled Hong Kong for the latter half of 2019.

In smooth, heady prose that blends legal scholarship with the romanticism of a battle for independence, Dapiran shows what he calls “a fight for the very soul of Hong Kong,” from the spark of a contested extradition bill — provoked by a murder committed by a Hong Kong man in Taiwan — to the escalation of nearly 7,000 arrests and a shutdown of the airport and legislature. He shows a city unhinged, on the verge of breakdown.

“I have watched as wave after wave of tear gas was unleashed upon crowds of protesters,” writes Dapiran, who witnessed the events from beginning to end. “After the protests of 2019, Hong Kongers have a new saying, and a new aspect to their identity: ‘You’re not a real Hong Konger if you haven’t tasted tear gas.’”