The Man Who Loved China

The Man Who Loved China

The Fantastic Story of the Eccentric Scientist Who Unlocked the Mysteries of the Middle Kingdom

Book - 2008
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The "New York Times"-bestselling author of "The Professor and the Madman" and "Krakatoa" returns with the remarkable story of the growth of a great nation, and the eccentric and adventurous scientist who defined its essence for the world.
Publisher: New York, NY : HarperCollins Publishers, 2008
Edition: 1st ed
ISBN: 9780060884598
Characteristics: xi, 316 p. : ill., maps ; 24 cm


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Dec 15, 2017

There is much to find out about this world, and the individuals who populate it that make it more compelling. Joseph Needham is one of those people. Simon Winchester's reading of this book did a wonderful job of bringing this man and his world to life.

There are many individuals who seek to find out as much as they can about certain things. There has to be a certain zeal for life that propels this kind of search. This is the true adventurer who is able to fill his days with these discoveries. The inclusiveness of Needham's approach to his understanding of China is to be admired.

Nov 04, 2017

A terrific biography of a fascinating man with a fascinating - and fascinated - mind, excellently read by the author. I had once noticed the great work (Science and Civilization In China) was held by the library (HPL), but now is not, but it certainly catapulted to my (ever expanding) must read list entirely because of this of this biography.
I can imagine an over-precocious fifteen year old rebutting a teacher 'but Joseph Needham smoked and drank and danced and went with a lot of girls and he accomplished great things' after reading (or listening) to this book.

Jan 23, 2017

Simon Winchester is an accomplished author not afraid to tackle the most esoteric of topics and personages. He has well over thirty book to his credit. Prolific indeed, dealing with subjects as varied as the creation of the Oxford English Dictionary; the Birth of Geology; the Atlantic Ocean; and, of course, the Orient. Obviously, Winchester is not one to shirk the large subjects.
He writes intelligently yet engagingly about the subjects to which be brings the fruits of insight, knowledge and enthusiasm.
This book, a biography of sorts, is about a scholar not much known to the general public, Joseph Needham.
Needham was an academic who took his training in Biochemistry at Cambridge. The pivitol point in his life came in 1935 when he met a young graduate student by the name of Lu Gwei-djen. It was as a result of this meeting (which unfolded into a life-long relationship) that Needsham's fascination with the orient was kindled.
During the Second World War Needham worked and travelled extensively in China, always attempting to find the answer to what has since become known as "Needham's Question": why had China and India been overtaken by the West in science and technology, despite their earlier successes? Ultimately, it might be argued, Needham never did find the answer to his question.
His seminal contribution to sinology was the completion of a seven volume work treating in China's contribution such as Mathematics, Mining, Civil Engineering and numerous other scientific and technological areas of study.
A highly invigorating book and one not to be avoided merely because if its somewhat quirky title.

Nov 25, 2016

Mr. Simon Winchester is a good writer. I do appreciate his discussion as to why the Chinese had stopped innovating after the sixteenth century A.D. My view is that under an imperial system where the emperor's decisions and orders were unquestioned and strictly enforced would have contributed to it in addition to all the possible causes suggested by Mr. Winchester.

Jul 08, 2016

This author has far-reaching talents of research on subjects that seem to capture his interest. Sometimes he's sarcastic,cynical, stuffy in a posh sort of manner (likely due to his education & accent) and yet I'm always hooked by his writing. A bit like Bill Bryson in random trivia forays when one subject veers into another - rather ADD in interests. I've learned some obscure facts, no one will ever ask me about & will be forever stuck in the gray matter folds, yet I find him fascinating. First & probably my favorite book, The Professor & the Madman, on how the OED came together in early 1900's.

Apr 23, 2016

I couldn't get past the hero's tedious personal history. So I quit reading.

Dec 09, 2014

Well written and a lot of details, this book will appeal to readers that fall in the 'special interest' category. I can see some academics would find it engaging. However, if you do not share an interest in the subject matter, you will find it totally lacking in entertainment value.

WVMLBookClubTitles Jun 22, 2013

In this fascinating biography, Winchester brings to life Joseph Needham, the brilliant and eccentric Cambridge scientist who brought to light China’s historic achievements and innovations during a time when the West regarded China as hopelessly backward. Winchester touches lightly on these innovations, but prefers to concentrate on the colourful life of Needham who, along with being a nudist and communist, had a lifelong affair with the Chinese graduate student who sparked his love for China in the first place.

neko Dec 23, 2009

Title for June 2010


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