The Man Who Loved China by Simon Winchester
The Fantastic Story of the Eccentric Scientist Who Unlocked the Mysteries of the Middle Kingdom

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Synopsis

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.

 

About Simon Winchester

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Simon Winchester is the acclaimed author of many books, including the New York Times bestsellers The Professor and the Madman, Atlantic, The Man Who Loved China, A Crack in the Edge of the World, and Krakatoa. In 2006, he was made an officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) by her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II. Now an American citizen, he resides in western Massachusetts.
 
Published March 17, 2009 by HarperCollins e-books. 352 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, History, Travel, Science & Math. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for The Man Who Loved China

Kirkus Reviews

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Another formidable, absorbing reading experience by versatile Winchester (A Crack in the Edge of the World: America and the Great California Earthquake of 1906, 2005, etc.), this one about the British scholar who made China's contributions to civilization known in the West.

May 20 2010 | Read Full Review of The Man Who Loved China: The ...

Publishers Weekly

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Joseph Needham (1900–1995) is the man who “made China China ,” forming the West’s understanding of a sophisticated culture with his master

Mar 10 2008 | Read Full Review of The Man Who Loved China: The ...

Publishers Weekly

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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

Jun 30 2008 | Read Full Review of The Man Who Loved China: The ...

The New York Times

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The Cambridge eccentric who became a leading China expert.

Jun 08 2008 | Read Full Review of The Man Who Loved China: The ...

The Guardian

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Most of the world's greatest discoveries originated in the Middle Kingdom, hundreds, sometimes thousands of years before they reached the west - gunpowder, suspension bridges, spinning wheels, oranges, stirrups, ice-cream, malleable iron, wheelbarrows, flamethrowers, umbrellas, playing cards, per...

Sep 27 2008 | Read Full Review of The Man Who Loved China: The ...

Book Reporter

Joseph Needham was a bright, elegant, sophisticated scientist.

Jan 07 2011 | Read Full Review of The Man Who Loved China: The ...

Entertainment Weekly

In the lead-up to this summer's Beijing Olympics, a lot of people are .

May 02 2008 | Read Full Review of The Man Who Loved China: The ...

USA Today

Simon Winchester's The Man Who Loved China proves the adage that if you really want to learn a foreign language, fall in love with a native speaker.

Jan 30 2013 | Read Full Review of The Man Who Loved China: The ...

Review (Barnes & Noble)

through astronomical clock drives (1st century C.E.), the distinction between arterial and venous blood (2nd century), folding chairs (3rd century), printing and coinage (9th century), the magnetic compass (11th century) -- the list goes on and on for pages, encompassing far more than the ?gunp...

Jun 25 2008 | Read Full Review of The Man Who Loved China: The ...

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Aug 30 2010 | Read Full Review of The Man Who Loved China: The ...

Bookmarks Magazine

he has also hit the best seller list with The Map That Changed the World (the birth of modern geology), Krakatoa (the Indonesian volcano, 4 of 5 Stars July/Aug 2003), and A Crack in the Edge of the World (the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, 2.5 of 5 Stars Jan/Feb 2006).

May 04 2008 | Read Full Review of The Man Who Loved China: The ...

Project MUSE

39), a defining moment that inspired the inquisitive Needham to begin his own systematic study of the Chinese language for no apparent reason other than fascination and intrigue over the gentility of diminutive Lu, and her two colleagues from China.

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The Moderate Voice

Can't say why I've been on such an Asian culture and history kick (having read five straight books on Tibet and China, as well as delving into Volume 4 of Needham's encyclopedia), but there is some kind of symbiosis going on because my 26-year-old son showed up the other day and casually mentione...

Oct 12 2008 | Read Full Review of The Man Who Loved China: The ...

EE Times

Joseph Needham credited the Chinese for inventing far more than just paper, ice cream and gunpowder.

May 23 2012 | Read Full Review of The Man Who Loved China: The ...

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