KINDLE ë Bomb, Book & Compass: Joseph Needham & the Great Secrets of China ⚫ eBook or Kindle ePUB free

KINDLE ë Bomb, Book & Compass: Joseph Needham & the Great Secrets of China î The seventeenth century philosopher statesman Francis Bacon famously declared that nothing had changed the world 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 anotheryears before a remarkable man called Joseph Needham embarked on his lifetime s work which would finally set the record straight Inspired by a wartime mission to occupied China, he wrote a twenty four volume masterpiece, chronicling the nation s astonishing history of invention and technology over five thousand yearsIn 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 Please skip the audiobook, read by a narrator as arrogant as Joseph Needham himself I expectedexcerpts from his infamous multi volume tome, but instead was treated to a fascinating trek into 1930 s rural China through the eyes of this brilliant womanizer Entertaining but enraging.Quotes The master saidSome have made flying cars with wood from the inner part of the juju tree, using ox leather straps fastened to returning blades so as to set the machine in motionPhu Poo T Please skip the audiobook, read by a narrator as arrogant as Joseph Needham himself I expectedexcerpts from his infamous multi volume tome, but instead was treated to a fascinating trek into 1930 s rural China through the eyes of this brilliant womanizer Entertaining but enraging.Quotes The master saidSome have made flying cars with wood from the inner part of the juju tree, using ox leather straps fastened to returning blades so as to set the machine in motionPhu Poo Tza, 320 A.D from Science and Civilization in China, Vol IV, Part II John Hay, America s Secretary of State at the turn of the 20th century, remarked in 1899 that China was now the storm center of the world, and whoever took the time and trouble to understand this mighty empire would have a key to politics for the next five centuries The Chinese, far from existing beyond the mainstream of human civilization, had in fact created much of it Over the eons, the Chinese had amassed the range of civilizing achievements that the outsiders who would be their ultimate beneficiaries had never even vaguely imagined printing, the compass blast furnaces, arched bridges vaccination against smallpox toilet paper, seismoscopes powered flight One of the things which the early Portuguese visitors to China in the 16th century found the most extraordinary about the bridges was the fact that they existed along roads often far from any human habitation President Roosevelt offered soothing words his family too had long and intimate links with China, the Delanos having been partners in one of the greatest Chinese tea shipping firms He went down local caves and found to his amazement scores of the finest measuring machines and scales squirreled away there, safe from bombing men in white coats patiently titrating and calibrating and weighing with precise lenses hundreds of feet below ground China, 4000 miles from Shanghai to Kashgar, 3000 miles from Hinan Island to the Gobi Desert, was like a vast shapeless sponge for any invading army It could soak up and fold and suffocate endless supplies of men and material, and still itself remain healthy, whole, and intact Stein was and still is widely villified in China for his trickery and plunder, as were a succession of greedy treasure hunters who came after him Among them was Langdon Warner of Harvard, an art historian who in due course carried off 26 of the Duhuang cave frescoes, and did so with such dash and swagger that he became one of Steven Spielberg s models for Indiana JonesFour thousand years ago, when we couldn t even read, the Chinese knew all the absolutely useful things we boast about todayVoltaire, The Philosophical Dictionary, 1764. He decided initially to make a great historical list, a list of every mechanical invention and abstract idea the building blocks of modern world civilization that had been first conceived and made in China If he could managed to establish a flawless catalog of just what the Chinese had created first, of exactly which of the world s ideas and concepts had actually originated in the Middle Kingdom, he would be on to something If he could delve behind the unforgettable remark that emperor Qia He decided initially to make a great historical list, a list of every mechanical invention and abstract idea the building blocks of modern world civilization that had been first conceived and made in China If he could managed to establish a flawless catalog of just what the Chinese had created first, of exactly which of the world s ideas and concepts had actually originated in the Middle Kingdom, he would be on to something If he could delve behind the unforgettable remark that emperor Qianlong had made to the visiting Lord Macartney in 1792 We possess all things I have no use for your country s manufactures if he could determine what exactly prompted Qianlong to make such a claim, then he would perhaps have the basis or a truly original and world changing work of scholarship Simon Winchester image fr0m rolfpotts.com Other great British explorers, like Livingston, Scott, Drake, and Cook sailed, rode, or walked into places that had never been seen by Westerners, producing useful and accurate maps of the places they explored Noel Joseph Terence Montgomery Needham strode into places in China that, while they might have been visited by Europeans, had maybe not been properly noticed, and created the equivalent of a map to their history, and the history of scientific development in China He would produce one of the monumental intellectual works of the 20th century, Science and Civilization in China, and revolutionize how the West perceived a nation that had come to be regarded as a basket case Like Moses, Joseph Needham did not survive to see the final product of his efforts, but he knew that it would come to be, as he had dedicated his energy, genius, love for, and obsession with China to fueling the engine to its final destination There are, to date, twenty four substantial published works in the project, according to the Needham Research Institute, within process Of course, as a remarkable Englishman, Needham would not be complete without his share of eccentricities, peculiarities, and oddities He was a nudist for one Those of delicate sensibility afloat on the River Cam in Cambridge knew that there was a certain section of the waterway that might feature suit free swimmers, and when to shield their gaze Needham might be found among the bathers He was also a practitioner of the open marriage It is unlikely that his wife, Dorothy, the daughter of his Cambridge mentor, was much of a sexual wanderer, but Needham was a notorious womanizer Of course there was one woman in particular who caught his fancy, and sparked Needham s life work She was named Lu Gwei djen, and she was Chinese, born thirty nine years before in the city of Nanjing, and a scientist like himself They had met at Cambridge six years earlier In falling headlong for Gwei djen, Joseph Needham found that he also became enraptured by her country She taught him her language, and he now spoke, wrote, and read it with a fair degree of fluency She had suggested that he travel to China and see for himself what a truly astonishing country it was so different, she kept insisting, from the barbaric and enigmatic empire most westerners believed it to be Lu Gwei djen was a gifted biology researcher who came to Cambridge specifically to study with Needham and his wife, also a high level scientist Six months in, she and Needham were an item Dorothy put up with it.Lu Gewi djen from HCSC Foundation Needham from USA TodayThe times were dramatic when Needham made his first visit to China in 1943 Japan occupied a considerable portion of the country The trip took years to arrange, having to run a gauntlet of political interference But once he arrived Needham immediately began identifying elements of contemporary Chinese civilization, technology and science, that dated back hundreds, and sometimes thousands of years, predating similar abilities in the west He found that much of what was presumed to have originated in Europe had in fact begun in the Middle Kingdom Needham made it his life s work to dig into the history of all the Chinese science and technology history he could get his hands on to feed what he already knew would be his magnum opus He travelled extensively in the non occupied areas of China, at times barely escaping ahead of Japanese invaders Although he compiled a massive amount of information, the crux of his concern rested on what would come to be called The Needham Question or The Grand Question, why had modern science originated only in the western world Much later on a second question presented itself namely why, during the previous fourteen centuries, had China been so muchsuccessful than Europe in acquiring knowledge of natural phenomena and using it for human benefit Simon Winchester tracks Needham s life from early childhood until his passing at age 95 He worked until the very end And a remarkable life it was His focus, of course, is on the time in which Needham acquired an interest in China and the subsequent lifetime labors A fair bit of ink is given to his relationship with Lu Gwei djen, as it should be And there is considerable reportage on Needham s political views, and the trouble those got him into during the shameful McCarthy period of the Cold War This makes for fascinating reading Winchester also lets us in on what a pain in the neck it was for Needham, however, intrepid, to make his way around China on his investigations, in the absence of reliable transport His life and status at Cambridge comes in for a look as well Like the poor we will always have office politics with us Joseph Needham is indeed one of the most remarkable people of the 20th century I confess I had never before heard of him, which may sayabout my educational shortcomings than Needham s undeserved obscurity, but I will presume that there are many like me, fewer, to be sure, on the eastern side of the pond to whom the story of Joseph Needham will be a revelation Simon Winchester has made a career out of writing about great accomplishments and the people responsible He has done us all a service to bring this amazing character to our attention With the growth of China into one of the premier economic and military powers on the planet, it may not ensure a good fortune, but it would probably be a worthwhile thing to know as much as possible about its history and culture.Publication 2008Review posted 3 6 15 EXTRA STUFFLinks to the author s personal, Twitter and FB pagesAn interesting wiki on the Historiography of scienceIf you feel like getting a start on reading Needham s life work, you might check in with the Needham Research Institute There are many photographs available there taken by Needham on his China visits.A few other books by Simon Winchester The Perfectionists Pacific Krakatoa Atlantic The Map That Changed the World The Professor and the MadmanThere are plentyWinchester books out there I listed only the ones I have read.The following are the full entries for the Chinese items included in the review I found them in the China Highlights site y u yu n qi n l l i xi ng hu Fate brings people together no matter how far apart they may be This proverb points out that human relationships are decreed by Fate zh y o g ng f sh n, ti ch m ch ng zh n If you work hard enough at it, you can grind even an iron rod down to a needle This proverb encourages us to persevere in whatever we undertake Just as the English proverb has it Constant drilling can wear away a stone y r n n n ch n b i r n x n zh ng k u n n ti o It is hard to please everyone qi ng l ng n n y d t u sh Even a dragon from the outside finds it hard to control a snake in its old haunt This means Powerful outsiders can hardly afford to neglect local bullies y b y g ji o y nr Every step leaves its print work steadily and make solid progress No knowledge is ever to be wasted or despised Dr Needham, snr Every hobby has an intellectual angle, and Needham jr was obsessively interested in everything.An exhilarating change from my usual fare though it fits with my fondness for China and Cambridge a biography of Joseph Needham 1900 1995 , an eccentric but brilliant multilingual Cambridge biochemist who fell in love with a Chinese woman, then her language and her country, becoming the world expert in and ambassador for the histor No knowledge is ever to be wasted or despised Dr Needham, snr Every hobby has an intellectual angle, and Needham jr was obsessively interested in everything.An exhilarating change from my usual fare though it fits with my fondness for China and Cambridge a biography of Joseph Needham 1900 1995 , an eccentric but brilliant multilingual Cambridge biochemist who fell in love with a Chinese woman, then her language and her country, becoming the world expert in and ambassador for the history of scientific discovery in China He was also a free loving Christian, a luxury loving communist sympathiser, friend of the powerful, a fantastically organised workaholic, an enthusiastic but clumsy dancer, a diplomat, nudist, co founder of UNESCO, Master of Gonville and Caius, andHis first trip to China was during WW2, when part of the country was under Japanese control His role was to visit and support scientists there by boosting morale, getting books and equipment, and general diplomacy But his own interests shone through and took over The scope of his investigations and the scale of what he wrote is truly staggering It ended up as a series of 24 books, under the title Science and Civilisation in China , published overthan 50 years, some volumes of which have never been out of print His search for the Chinese origin of just about everything the central obsession of his life What he searched for, he largely found.The story of how this came about involves derring do adventure, serendipity good and bad , politics, war, globe trotting, biological warfare or not , unconventional relationships, the Unabomber , adulation and disgrace, espionage, and above all, extraordinary insights into China Amazing ChinaThe three inventions that Francis Bacon said most profoundly changed the world were all invented in China the compass, printing, and gunpowder long before the rest of the world reinvented them, as were many, manyAnd Needham found proof by the cartload literally For instance, there were written decrees prohibiting selling gunpowder to Tartars in AD1076, two centuries before Berthold Schwartz s alleged discovery of it, and the famous Diamond Sutra was printed from wood blocks six centuries before Gutenberg or Caxton Water, especially controlling rivers and crossings, has long been key in ruling China Technology reflects that Needham found a dam,than two thousand years old, stone bridges nearly 1,500 years old, and a suspension bridgethan 300 years old, all still functioning Even something a modern reader may think of trivial, can be crucial, such as the stirrup, enabling riders to stay in the saddle for longer, further, and over rougher terrain The number and especially the rate of inventions estimated as 15 major inventions per century is unsurpassed Needham s Needham Question The conundrum for Needham was, why, if the Chinese were so clever and so endlessly inquisitive, inventive and creative, had they for so long been so poor and scientifically backward Why were they so far ahead for so long, and then stalled around 1500 AD, after which scientific progress switched to the west When Winchester finally considers possible answers in the epilogue , he concludes there is no good answer, but the consensus is that the Chinese stopped trying Cultural hegemony meant there was no need for a competitive advantage, and the culture has always been totalitarian It felt rushed and inadequate and somewhat disrespectful to the man and the work he was praising.But taking the much longer view surely appropriate for such an ancient culture , as China rises, maybe we should consider those few centuries as a mere blip In the words of a sign at a Chinese space base Without haste Without fear We conquer the world Questions about NeedhamWhat about the man himself He was a principled man, though many of his principles did not align with the establishment of the time He would certainly have been a wonderful, and perhaps rather intimidating man to meet He undoubtedly loved Chinese culture and people, but nevertheless, one has to question the motives and actions of a European gathering so many documents and artifacts Many were given often unsolicited, and he made good use of them in evangelising for China, but whether that means all those documents should remain in the Needham Institute in Cambridge in perpetuity is harder to say Also, as Chrissie asks in her review , was scientific cooperation the only reason the British government sent an academic all that way, at great expense, during a war He mixed with spies amongst others , but said almost nothing about them, but as a socialist and known communist sympathiser, he would surely not have been trusted as a spy, would he Maybe it was just a last blast of Britain s colonial mindset, spiced up with a dash of guilt for the shameful opium wars Could there ever by another Needham one who knows SO much about so many things without resorting to the internet I suspect not, which is just one reason why this his life story is so important Paean to Who What Winchester promises much He says early on that Needham would alter this perception of China as backward , almost overnight and almost single handedly though book goes on to mention many people who helped, Needham was an overpowering driving force.Needham s life s work was a tribute to the country he came to love so much sometimes too uncritically This book is a tribute to Needham It s a good and enjoyable book, and I don t think I can stomach 24 volumes of Needham s work, but it inevitably feels at one remove to the true inspiration of all that passion an effort A Chinese aphorism, written in his college room, would be a suitable epitaph The man departs there remains his shadow Facts, facts, facts but it readslike a storyThat s a good thing There s an index, bibliography, timeline and most importantly, a list of some of the inventions and discoveries credited with originating in China tens, hundreds or even thousands of years before they were known in the rest of the world Issues with Winchester s StyleIt s very readable Definitely 4 But I nearly demoted it to 3.I ve not read Winchester before, so I wasn t sure if some of the very detailed impressions of obscure details were imagined by him I found that a little irritating at first, but as I realised the scale and quantity of Needham s diaries, notebooks and letters, I relaxed and assumed Winchester was sticking to a broadly factual account.Nevertheless, there were a few factual aspects I would quibble with Did he check the rather hyperbolic claim that Morris dancing is the oldest unchanged dance in England How would you check it anyway And that 1946 7 was the most terrible British winter of all time He certainly doesn t seem to have checked his claim that the word punnet derives from Mr Punnett, a strawberry growing relative of someone Needham met Everywhere I looked gave the origin as unknown first appearing in print around 1822 , with no mention of stawberries When considering aspects of China that are unchanging, even in the 21st century, he cites the writing system, without even passing mention of the simplified script used in mainland China for half a century not in Hong Kong and Taiwan or the increasing use of Pinyin.He also has an occasional tendency to repeat himself and to write sentences with a rather odd though not incorrect word order Perhaps one should blame the editor though the latter could be a deliberate stylistic choice For instance, the bit of the longer quote above, Why had they for so long been so poor and It felt so unnatural, I had to retype it twice to get it right Another was This hubris, inevitably contributed to the problems that caused the empire in time to flounder and fall if you don t want to use commas, wouldn t in time benatural at the end I realise I m being picky, but having noticed it, I can t not mention it The epilogue is troubling in a different way Winchester appears to have visited Chongqing to compare it with the city Needham knew I ve been there myself, and it is an extraordinary place, Part Blade Runner, part Shinjuko, part Dickensian London sums it up well But as he finally attempts to tackle The Needham Question , too little and too late, Winchester s language takes a slightly nasty tone where he muses on national smugness and a general attitude of ineluctable and self knowing Chinese superiority Quotes etc Learning Chinese was a liberation for it got you entirely out of the prison of alphabetic words, and into the crystalline world of ideographic characters After trying and failing at a chaste and semi monastic life, he decided to worship the deity on his own term What hubris He and Dorothy had an open marriage from the start, and she decided to accept the affair in a spirit of intellectually tolerant and fashionable left wing complaisance A review of one of his books likened it to Proust Proust and Needham have made of remembrance both an act of moral justice and of high art whatever that means Steiner in 1973 I read this partly on the basis of reviews by and discussions with Caroline and WillThank you I cannot recall when I last felt as passionate about a book as I do with this spellbinding work by Simon Winchester I am also passionate about the amazing life of Joseph Needham, an Englishman who was born at the end of the Victorian era in 1900, who rose to such splendid heights in academia, fell from grace due to his views on the American armed forces using biological weapons during the Korean War and was finally vindicated, leading to his works on China.So purely as a taster and the rest is I cannot recall when I last felt as passionate about a book as I do with this spellbinding work by Simon Winchester I am also passionate about the amazing life of Joseph Needham, an Englishman who was born at the end of the Victorian era in 1900, who rose to such splendid heights in academia, fell from grace due to his views on the American armed forces using biological weapons during the Korean War and was finally vindicated, leading to his works on China.So purely as a taster and the rest is up to you to read the book to find out the full story Needham was an academic from Caius College, Cambridge with a doctorate in BioChemistry, happily living in an open marriage 13 September 1924 with Dorothy Moyle aka Dophi , also an academic, who specialized in the biochemistry of muscle They remained devoted to one another until her death.Needham was flamboyant, apart from being extremely clever, he loved women, was an active nudist, linguist, socialist and supporter of communism, and a trencherman apart from other things His life couldn t have been better but his world was turned upside down in 1937 when he met Lu Gwei djen, the brilliant young biochemist from Nanjing, in China They took to one another immediately, although it was six months before they became lovers She was to remain his mistress and muse throughout her life Dophi also liked her very much and the three were often together.But it was Gwei djen who was to be the catalyst in Needham finally going to China Her father had always told her that China had made a greater contribution to world science than anyone in the west had done She kept stressing this fact to Needham and in the end he went to China to find out all about these inventions They were all amazing Luck always plays a part in life however and Needham was selected in 1939 to take part in a mission to China to help the country s academics who had all disappeared into the hinterland The Sino Japanese war that began in 1937 had the Japanese targeting all the Chinese universities and thus the reason for their fleeing But it was all of the inventions that Needham discovered in China from 1943 1946, the people he met and the lifestyle that were to remain with him all his life even when he returned to Cambridge his helping to set up UNESCO in Paris that were to lead to his lifetime work, Science and Civilization in China , Cambridge Univ Press, 7 volumes, started in 1954 and continuing until Needham s death.Even so, at the end of his life he often puzzled over the fact that China had suddenly lost its drive in inventions and was overtaken by the west Why He was never to find out He had various ideas but nothing concrete.A fabulous book I ve ordered his first volume of Science and Civilization in China and I cannot wait to read it A trifle pricey but worth every penny PS an interesting report Whether true or not has not been proved