The Washington Post
Man Who Loved Chinaby Simon Winchester
In sumptuous and illuminating detail, Simon Winchester, the bestselling author of The Professor and the Madman ("Elegant and scrupulous"—New York Times Book Review) and Krakatoa ("A mesmerizing page-turner"—Time) brings to life the extraordinary story of Joseph Needham, the brilliant Cambridge scientist who unlocked/em>/em>/em>/em>… See more details below
In sumptuous and illuminating detail, Simon Winchester, the bestselling author of The Professor and the Madman ("Elegant and scrupulous"—New York Times Book Review) and Krakatoa ("A mesmerizing page-turner"—Time) brings to life the extraordinary story of Joseph Needham, the brilliant Cambridge scientist who unlocked the most closely held secrets of China, long the world's most technologically advanced country.
No cloistered don, this tall, married Englishman was a freethinking intellectual, who practiced nudism and was devoted to a quirky brand of folk dancing. In 1937, while working as a biochemist at Cambridge University, he instantly fell in love with a visiting Chinese student, with whom he began a lifelong affair.
He soon became fascinated with China, and his mistress swiftly persuaded the ever-enthusiastic Needham to travel to her home country, where he embarked on a series of extraordinary expeditions to the farthest frontiers of this ancient empire. He searched everywhere for evidence to bolster his conviction that the Chinese were responsible for hundreds of mankind's most familiar innovations—including printing, the compass, explosives, suspension bridges, even toilet paper—often centuries before the rest of the world. His thrilling and dangerous journeys, vividly recreated by Winchester, took him across war-torn China to far-flung outposts, consolidating his deep admiration for the Chinese people.
After the war, Needham was determined to tell the world what he had discovered, and began writing his majestic Science and Civilisation in China, describing the country's long and astonishing history of invention and technology. By the time he died, he had produced, essentially single-handedly, seventeen immense volumes, marking him as the greatest one-man encyclopedist ever.
Both epic and intimate, The Man Who Loved China tells the sweeping story of China through Needham's remarkable life. Here is an unforgettable tale of what makes men, nations, and, indeed, mankind itself great—related by one of the world's inimitable storytellers.
The Washington Post
Simon Winchester's reading, like his clear, concise, graceful writing, reflects his endless fascination with his subject-the British scientist Joseph Needham-and with his subject's subject: Chinese scientists' every invention and contribution to every field of science over five centuries (before the West began to think of such things as the printing press and gunpowder). Winchester reads rapidly, but his diction is so precise (yet never stuffy) that not a word is lost. The vocal warmth and charm mirror his endless awe of Needham's lifetime work on his multivolume magnum opus on Chinese scientific thought. Winchester's tone reveals his delight with Needham's love affairs, his unconventional marriage and relation to his lifelong inamorata who first inspired his love of Chinese language, people and thought. As with every book he's written and narrated, Winchester makes abstruse subjects available and fascinating for every reader and listener. A Harper hardcover (Reviews, Mar. 10). (May)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
The masterpiece of the subtitle is Joseph Needham's Science and Civilization in China, a multivolume unfinished work documenting China's stupendous early achievements in science and technology. Winchester, the prolific British author of many acclaimed books (e.g., The Professor and the Madman), loses no momentum here. Needham (1900-95), a brilliant and somewhat eccentric Cambridge biochemist who became entranced with the study of China's early scientific advances, is well worth a biography, and Winchester is just the writer to undertake it. He explores Needham's fascinating and sometimes controversial personal life, his travels to China, and especially the significance and topicality of his scholarship on the early accomplishments of Chinese science and technology: why did China achieve so much so early, and why did it cease doing so for several centuries? Winchester carries the exploration further: now that China has resumed its technological advances, where will it take itself and the world? These are major questions superbly posed in an accessible and provocative book. Essential for all libraries. [See Prepub Alert, LJ1/08.]
Harold M. Otness
- HarperCollins Publishers
- Publication date:
- Product dimensions:
- 6.20(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.30(d)
Meet the Author
Simon Winchester is the acclaimed author of The Men Who United The States, as well as the New York Times bestselling books The Professor and the Madman, Atlantic, Krakatoa, Crack in the Edge and more.
- New York; Massachusetts; Scotland
- Date of Birth:
- September 28, 1944
- Place of Birth:
- London, England
- M.A., St. Catherine¿s College, Oxford, 1966
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