Monday, September 22, 2008

Bomb, book and compass : Joseph Needham and the great secrets of China

Winchester, Simon
Call No: 509.2 WIN
London : Penguin, 2008
316 p. : ill., maps ; 24 cm.

Updated: September 23, 2008

Last night Simon Winchester (invited by The Royal Geographic Society ) flew to town to introduce his new book, a biography on Joseph Needham to a mesmerized audience of over 500 people at the Hong Kong Academy of Performing Arts.

Joseph Needham was a charismatic biochemist who published a twenty-four volume masterpiece on the history of invention and technology of China: "Science and Civilization in China".

Highly recommended by our very own history teacher, Trevor Taylor, the biography is now available in the senior library.

The extraordinary story of Joseph Needham, the brilliant Cambridge scientist who unlocked the most closely held secrets of China--long the world's most technologically advanced country. This married Englishman, a freethinking intellectual, while working at Cambridge University in 1937, fell in love with a visiting Chinese student, with whom he began a lifelong affair. He became fascinated with China, and embarked on a series of extraordinary expeditions to the farthest frontiers of this ancient empire. He searched everywhere for evidence to bolster his conviction that the Chinese were responsible for hundreds of mankind's most familiar innovations--including printing, the compass, explosives, suspension bridges, even toilet paper--often centuries before the rest of the world. His dangerous journeys took him across war-torn China to far-flung outposts, consolidating his deep admiration for the Chinese people. After the war, Needham began writing what became a seventeen-volume encyclopedia, Science and Civilisation in China.--From publisher description.