In sumptuous and illuminating detail Simon Winchester chronicles the extraordinary story of Joseph Needham, the brilliant Cambridge scientist who turned his eccentric genius on the study of China. In 1937 Joseph Needham fell in love with a visiting Chinese student. He soon became fascinated by China, and his mistress persuaded him to travel to ...
In sumptuous and illuminating detail Simon Winchester chronicles the extraordinary story of Joseph Needham, the brilliant Cambridge scientist who turned his eccentric genius on the study of China. In 1937 Joseph Needham fell in love with a visiting Chinese student. He soon became fascinated by China, and his mistress persuaded him to travel to her home country. Thus began his undying passion for the world's most populous nation. Needham tackled one of the great, unanswered historical questions: Why did a nation that had invented so much and had enjoyed 5,000 years of flourishing civilization, fail to undergo an industrial revolution, and instead spend so many modern years mired in poverty and racked by instability and revolution? By the time he died, Needham had produced seventeen immense volumes on China, marking him as the greatest one-man encyclopaedist ever. Both epic and intimate, "The Man Who Loved China" tells the sweeping history of China through Needham's remarkable life. Here is an unforgettable tale by one of the world's inimitable storytellers.
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Winchester's writing style is dynamic and pulls your eyes along the pages. I always intend to put his books down and do something useful, but can't. This book has great descriptions, not just of Needham's travels through China, but of his plush life in England as well.
Jul 31, 2008
Simon the Splendid
Simon Winchester has done it again. This is another of his beautifully written books on a wide variety of otherwise poorly-covered subjects. His writing style is addictive and his choice of subjects unique. I'm busy sourcing previous books which I have not yet read. I can't ay enough positive things about this particular volume except...GO AND BUY IT!
Publishers Weekly, 2008-03-10 Joseph Needham (1900-1995) is the man who "made China China," forming the West's understanding of a sophisticated culture with his masterpiece, Science and Civilization in China, says bestselling author Winchester. In a life devoted to recording the Middle Kingdom's intellectual wealth, Needham, an eccentric, brilliant Cambridge don, made a remarkable journey from son of a London doctor through scientist-adventurer to red scare target. In Winchester's (The Professor and the Madman) estimable hands, Needham's story comes to life straightaway. From the biochemist's arrival in WWII Chongqing ("the smells, of incense smoke, car exhaust, hot cooking oil, a particularly acrid kind of pepper, human waste, oleander, and jasmine") to his steely discipline when crafting his research into prose (to an old friend: "I am frightfully busy. You come without an appointment, so I am afraid I cannot see you"), Winchester plunges the reader into the action with hardly a break. As the author notes in an outstanding epilogue--a swirling 12-page trip through the kaleidoscope of contemporary China--he is at pains to place Needham front and center in our understanding of the nation that now plays such a huge role in American life. B&w photos, maps. (May) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
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