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The Great Wall Revisited: From the Jade Gate to Old Dragon's Head
     

The Great Wall Revisited: From the Jade Gate to Old Dragon's Head

by William Lindesay
 

A journey along the Great Wall in the past and present, this landmark volume offers an extraordinary portrait of perhaps the world’s most famous structure. Carrying his camera and a file of vintage photographs—the earliest dating from 1871—author-photographer William Lindesay traveled across Northern China for three years, searching for settings

Overview

A journey along the Great Wall in the past and present, this landmark volume offers an extraordinary portrait of perhaps the world’s most famous structure. Carrying his camera and a file of vintage photographs—the earliest dating from 1871—author-photographer William Lindesay traveled across Northern China for three years, searching for settings where the Great Wall could be examined in the past and present, side by side. The result, The Great Wall Revisited, presents seventy-two of the most elucidating then- and-now comparisons. This glossy dossier opens out as an extraordinary journey from the Jade Gate in northwest China’s Gobi Desert to Old Dragon’s Head on the Yellow Sea.

Far more than a romantic look at the Great Wall of yesteryear, this stunning, artfully crafted volume also contains concise histories of the sites that Lindesay’s images revisit. Colorful literary impressions composed by earlier visitors, juxtaposed with contemporary eyewitness accounts of change traced along the Wall, afford a sense of history unfolding and time inexorably creeping along the contours of this enduring monument to human ingenuity.

Editorial Reviews

Smithsonian
In 1990, William Lindesay, a British authority on the Great Wall, Beijing, happened upon a copy of The Great Wall of China, a travelogue by William Edgar Geil--very likely the first individual, Chinese included--to traverse the entire Great Wall of China, at the turn of the century...Lindesay thumbed through the book, transfixed by the photographs, particularly one showing Geil near a tower on a remote section of the wall. Lindesay possessed his own photograph of that very site; however, by the time he arrived there in 1987, the tower visible in Geil's image had vanished...Beginning in 2004, he set out to locate and re-photograph the sites depicted in Geil's pictures...Lindesay's then-and-now images...document changes to the wall in the last century.
Los Angeles Times

The second-best instrument besides a ticket to see something in person is a good book. Or, in this case, a great book.
— Catharine Hamm

Los Angeles Times - Catharine Hamm
The second-best instrument besides a ticket to see something in person is a good book. Or, in this case, a great book.
Publishers Weekly

The mystery and magnificence of the Great Wall of China have fascinated historians and artists for centuries. In recent years, photographer Lindesay traveled the entire length of the wall to document its current state in comparison to earlier photographs and drawings. For this elegant, lavishly illustrated book, Lindesay selected 72 of the most striking comparisons, juxtaposing his new photographs with the older images to illustrate the "changes inflicted by man and nature." For example, in 1937, the Chinese photographer Sha Fei snapped a picture of the Three Towers in the Hebei section of the wall, capturing the power of the towers with their battlements intact. Over 70 years later, as Lindesay's photo shows, none of the towers still stand. In sections of the wall at Shanhaiguan, Lindesay's photos reveal that towers farther up the mountain remain in better condition those lower down, possibly because locals took the stones for building materials. Lindesay's album-a gorgeous visual complement to John Man's The Great Wall(Reviews, July 7)- provides a one-of-a-kind time-lapse view of the wall and a thoughtful lesson about the preservation of historical monuments. (Sept.)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Library Journal

If you didn't get to China this summer, these two books will help make up for it. In his elegantly produced volume, Lindesay (founder, International Friends of the Great Wall; Alone on the Great Wall) pairs 72 historic 19th- and early 20th-century photographs of sites along the Great Wall with his own beautiful and informative photos of the same views taken when he revisited the sites in the last few years. Sometimes there is great change, other times little at all. Lindesay provides graceful essays on the lives of the earlier photographers and histories of the local communities around the sites, often with maps, excerpts from the writings of earlier visitors, or drawings.

Man's earlier books (e.g., The Terra Cotta Army: China's First Emperor and the Birth of a Nation) combine travel and history. His latest amounts to a readable history of relations between the Chinese dynasties and inner Asia as he tells of the various walls in successive periods. He also regales us with his adventures traveling along the present-day Great Wall. His tone is knowledgeable, breezy, and sometimes a little breathless as he skillfully debunks what is left of the myths about the wall-no, it cannot be seen from space with the naked eye. In fact, the wall is not an "it" but a "them," that is, not a single thing but a process whose length cannot be measured because it is composed of overlapping bits made at different times. Both books acknowledge and make good use of recent Chinese scholarship, and both are recommended for larger public libraries, with Lindesay's also appropriate for college and special collections.
—Charles W. Hayford

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780674031494
Publisher:
Harvard University Press
Publication date:
09/15/2008
Pages:
292
Product dimensions:
8.40(w) x 11.60(h) x 1.20(d)

Meet the Author

William Lindesay made a solo journey along the Great Wall on foot in 1987—nearly 2,500 km. Since settling in China in 1990, he founded International Friends of the Great Wall, an organization that cooperates on preservation projects with the Beijing Administration of Cultural Heritage and the World Monuments Fund. Lindesay is the author of Alone on the Great Wall and Images of Asia: The Great Wall. He was awarded the Friendship Medal from the Chinese Government and holds the rank of Officer, Order of the British Empire.

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