Bomb, Book and Compass

Bomb, Book and Compass : Joseph Needham and the Great Secrets of China

3.79 (3,391 ratings by Goodreads)
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The seventeenth-century philosopher-statesman Francis Bacon famously declared that nothing had changed the world more profoundly than three great inventions: gunpowder, printing and the compass. What he didn't know was that the Chinese had been successfully using all three, long before the west ever 'invented' them. And yet it was another 300 years before a remarkable man called Joseph Needham embarked on his epic, lifetime's work which would finally set the record straight. Inspired by a wartime mission to occupied China, he started writing what would become a twenty-four-volume masterpiece, chronicling the nation's astonishing history of invention and technology over five thousand years. It was, and remains, the greatest work on China ever created in the Western world. In "Bomb, Book and Compass", Simon Winchester tells the story of Joseph Needham, his magnificent book, the passion that inspired it, and the remarkable rise of the Chinese nation that continues to this day.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 336 pages
  • 128 x 196 x 26mm | 140.61g
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 2 endpages + 20 black and white integrated
  • 0141011580
  • 9780141011585
  • 256,934

About Simon Winchester

Simon Winchester was born and educated in England and was a foreign correspondent for 30 years, reporting for much of that time from Asia, including mainland China and Hong Kong. His many highly-acclaimed and bestselling books include The River at the Centre of the World, The Surgeon of Crowthorne and The Map that Changed the World. He now lives in New York and in western Massachusetts.
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Review quote

'An astonishing story' Sunday Times 'A fascinating, revealing story, told with Winchester's customary brio and wit' Telegraph 'One man's graceful, diverting account of another man's passion' The Times 'Succinct, enjoyable, engaging' Financial Times
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Rating details

3,391 ratings
3.79 out of 5 stars
5 23% (796)
4 41% (1,394)
3 28% (949)
2 6% (200)
1 2% (52)

Our customer reviews

Joseph Needham (1900-1995) was an absolutely extraordinary scholar. He dedicated his life to the onging <a href="/search?searchTerm=Science+and+Civilisation+in+China+needham&search=search">Science and Civilisation in China</a> series, the successive parts of which have been published by Cambridge University Press since 1954. This huge work, perhaps unparalleled in the history of science and the social sciences, "is planned as a history of science, technology and medicine in China, seen in its fullest social and intellectual context, and illuminated by a deep and sympathetic understanding of the cultures of both East and West." <br /><br /> In his fascinating study, <a href="/book/9780141011585/Bomb-Book-and-Compass">Bomb, Book and Compass: Joseph Needham and the Great Secrets of China</a>, Simon Winchester writes vividly about Needham's life and work which have "radically changed the ways in which scholars and scientists evaluate both the history of Chinese culture, and the history of science, medicine and technology understood as part of the common cultural heritage of the human race." <br /><br /> Joseph Needham was the greatest Western sinologist of this century and, although seemingly not widely known in Britain, is "probably the British historian best-known on a world scale". He has been called the Erasmus of the twentieth century and Simon Winchester's excellent book is a wonderful way into his fascinating more
by Mark Thwaite
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