August 2, 2011
A fascinating biography of Joseph Needham, who fulfilled the stereotype of the brilliant, original, eccentric, and supremely self-confident English academician. And also, politically naive. Winchester writes in an easy, flowing, chatty, and even gossipy manner that compels the reader--at least this one--to keep turning pages deep into the night. This is first and foremost a lively biography and not a history of China or of Chinese science, although there is an appendix alphabetically listing Chinese scientific firsts, and an extensive reading list for those who might wish to further explore Chinese history and culture. There is a film, lurking within these pages.
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