The Man Who Loved China
by Winchester, Simon
pub by Harper/Collins, NY, 2008 - - LCCN 2007040516 - - isbn 978-0-06-088459-8 - - 316 p.
subtitled - The fantastic story of the Eccentric Scientist Who Unlocked the Mysteries of the Middle Kingdom -. It is the biography of Noel Joseph Terrence Montgomery Needham - more commonly called Joseph Needham.
His father (Joseph) was an medical Dr and his mother was Alicia, an Irish woman, daughter of a town clerk. Joseph Needham dabbled towards medicine but eventually distinguished himself in biochemistry. He met and married Dorothy Moyle in 1924. Early on they decided to have what is now called an open marriage not to be bothered with one anothers indiscretions.
In 1937 Joseph Needham met Lu Gwei-djen, a graduate student from China and fell in love with her and with China and all things Chinese. Needham learned to speak and read Chinese as well as anyone learning the language in adulthood. He learned from her that China had a long history of scientific and cultural firsts.
In 1943 during WWII he was sent on a diplomatic mission to China to support Chinese scientific and educational institutions. He used some of his time exlporing the history of science in china. He ended up spending the rest of his life discovering these firsts and bringing them to the attention of the Western world. He began a book which evolved into a series of books with the title Science and Civilization in China . So far there are at least 15 volumes.
Needhams life is very interesting. Winchester does a good job of describing it. It should be noted that Joseph Needhamm, his wife Dorothy and Lu Gwei-djen all got along together quite well.
This is a very good read. Simon Winchester does very well writing biography, and in this case has a very interesting subject.
~ 2017-07-21 ~
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