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Starred Review. 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)
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Simon Winchester is always a good read, and this one is no exception. Fabulous account of Chinese Science as well as a fascinating biography of Joseph Needham, the man who brought... Read morePublished 4 months ago by Robert A. Runte
An deep study of what one dedicated person went through to learned about China's historical greatness.
Highly recommended. No more xenophobia.
As a Chinese and a scientist I really enjoyed reading about the development of science in China. I think Simon Winchester did an xcellent job in his research.Published on April 10 2013 by Amazon Customer
I recently listened to my first China audio-book, The Man Who Loved China, by Simon Winchester. I had heard about this book, but admit the title put me off. Read morePublished on Dec 27 2011 by Troy Parfitt
Winchester's account of Joseph Needham shows a Needham-esque fascination with intricate detail -- be it the social world of Edwardian England or the topography of western China. Read morePublished on Dec 17 2010 by Brian Griffith
I bought this book quite a long time ago. I didn't order it because I had any particular interest in Joseph Needham (indeed, I had never heard of him) but rather because I had read... Read morePublished on Nov. 1 2010 by C. J. Thompson
Simon Winchester is a wonderful storyteller and his bio of Joseph Needham brings to light an amazing man who followed his ideals and created a better world for all.Published on Aug. 12 2010 by Becky2
I find the writer good but Needham does not seem quite worthy of a popular biography on this scale - I started to get bored despite Winchester's valiant attempts to make something... Read morePublished on Feb. 15 2009 by Dan Dupre