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Publisher's Summary

Here is the fantastic story of the eccentric scientist who unlocked the mysteries of the Middle Kingdom. 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 17 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.
©2008 Simon Winchester (P)2008 HarperCollins Publishers
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
4 out of 5 stars
By David Ewing on 10-09-08

Great for Winchester Fans

This is my third Simon Winchester book and I enjoyed it immensely. However, if you've never read (listened) to a Simon Winchester book, this is not the one to start with. You will appreciate this book far more after listening to "The Professor and The Madman" because it will help you "get" the Winchester perspective on great works of scholarly importance and the characters in Madman are far more endearing than here.

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16 of 16 people found this review helpful

4 out of 5 stars
By Chris on 10-06-08

This guy knows how to tell a story

This is not a topic I would normally have much interest in. I've never heard of Joseph Needham or the book he wrote. But Simon Winchester can make things interesting. It is the story of another eccentric Brit, not unlike the subjects of The Professor and the Madman or The Map that Changed the World. The format is straight biography, but there is an awful lot to learn about China in the story.

I guess the take home message is that China went into a slump for a few centuries while Europe managed to take over the world. Now China is regaining its place as a center of innovation and scholarship. How the future plays out is still open, but Needham made it clear that if the past is any guide, the West has a lot to worry about. A fun listen.

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12 of 12 people found this review helpful

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