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The Man Who Loved China: The Fantastic Story of the Eccentric Scientist Who Unlocked the Mysteries of the Middle Kingdom Hardcover – May 6, 2008
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- Item Weight : 1.3 pounds
- Hardcover : 336 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0060884592
- ISBN-13 : 978-0060884598
- Dimensions : 6 x 1.18 x 9 inches
- Publisher : Harper; First Edition (May 6, 2008)
- Language: : English
- Best Sellers Rank: #591,537 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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Winchester is more of a journalist than a writer or a thinker, and while I wish again to express my respect for his intensive work I am sorry to say that my impression is that of the chronicle of a quest that falls short of its promise.
Aside from the breadth of topics he covers while telling the story of one man's life's work, he writes about and discusses topics which should be part of everyone's personal cultural knowledge. As a small example, he makes mention of one of the real life archaeologists who served as a model for Indiana Jones - though sadly he only makes the direct connection in a footnote which many may not likely read.
Though I had originally picked up the book out of general curiosity (not to diminish the fact that I'm on a quest to read every word Winchester has written), I find that it also neatly fits into providing some spectacular background on the concept of "Big History" (see Maps of Time: An Introduction to Big History (California World History Library) ) as it relates to China's place in the world. In particular "Needham's question" (briefly: Why, given China's illustrious past, did modern science not develop there after the 1500's?) turned around becomes a interesting illustration on the course of human history and the rises and falls of cultures and societies since the holocene.
For those who may miss the significance, I was particularly impressed with the overall literary power imbued to the book by the use of the bookended contrasts of Needham's Chongqing at the opening of the work and modern day Chongqing at the close. This is one of the few times that the mechanics behind how Winchester, the master of telling often non-linear stories, has been patently obvious to me. I hope one day to unravel all of his other secrets. I can only imagine that in his heavy research of his topics, he somehow internally sees the ultimately magical ways in which he will present the information.
I will note that, in contrast to some of his past works, this one had some better physical maps and photos to go along with the text, although I was highly disappointed in their unusuable presentation in the e-book version of the book. (Higher dpi versions would have gone a long way, particularly with the ability to zoom in on them in most e-readers.) For those unfortunate enough to have the e-book copy, I commend picking up a physical copy of the book for better interpretations of the photos and maps included.
Top reviews from other countries
He made such an impression on the people he met in Hong Kong that he raised something half a million pounds within six months,
The only bit missing in the book, regrettably is some details of the donors and how he was revered by China even today.
Another bit missing is about Professor Ho PingYu, who was his friend , collaborator and subsequently his successor at the Needham Research Institute in Cambridge.