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

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

Simon Winchester

Language: English

Pages: 299

ISBN: 0670913782

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

Before fate intervened, Joseph Needham was a distinguished biochemist at Cambridge University, married to a fellow scientist. In 1937 he was asked to supervise a young Chinese student named Lu Gwei-Djen, and in that moment began the two greatest love affairs of his life -- Miss Lu, and China. Miss Lu inspired Needham to travel to China where he initially spent three dangerous years as a wartime diplomat. He established himself as the pre-eminent China scholar of all time, firm in his belief that China would one day achieve world prominence. By the end of his life, Needham had become a truly global figure, travelling endlessly and honoured by all - though banned from America because of his politics. And in 1989, after a fifty-two year affair, he finally married the woman who had first inspired his passion. The Magnificent Barbarian is Simon Winchester at his best - at once a magnificent portrait of one man's remarkable life and a riveting exploration of the country that so engaged him.

NOTE: This is UK edition. US edition under title The Man Who Loved China: The Fantastic Story of the Eccentric Scientist Who Unlocked the Mysteries of the Middle Kingdom by another publisher is available here



















distinguished scholar, and science policy maker – could well be the subject of a fascinating book. I greatly enjoyed meeting him in Washington and listening to his reminiscences. Red Chan, who teaches at the Centre for Translation Studies at the University of Warwick, accompanied me on all my journeys throughout China, acting most ably as translator and general fixer. I am greatly indebted to her. I should also like to record my gratitude to the following, who had specific knowledge of aspects

Cambridge University, as professor 27–9, 173–80 at Cambridge University, as student 4, 19–29 car ownership 33, 245n.53 childhood 13–17 Chinese names of 41, 43, 245, 127n.26 clothing of 71, 73 correspondence with Lu Gwei-djen 10, 65, 145, 164, 227–8 damage to reputation of, over biological warfare report 222–3 declining health and death of 250–52, 259–62 diplomatic mission to China see Needham, Joseph, his British diplomatic mission to China (1942–46) dreams of 127–9 early education 17

you, Dr Needham,’ he called out over the clatter as the plane’s cargo was being unloaded. ‘Welcome to Chungking. Welcome to the centre of China.’ It was late in the afternoon of 21 March 1943, a Sunday, and Noël Joseph Terence Montgomery Needham, a daring young scientist who was known both in his homeland – England – and in America as combining a donnish brilliance and great accomplishments as a biologist with a studied eccentricity, had arrived in this most perilous of outposts on a vital

arrived he was able to effect an escape. Late in May the ambassador asked him to drive 200 miles to the west, on a first mission to practise the art of spreading good cheer in the capital city of Sichuan, Chengdu. It was a journey he anticipated with some eagerness – not least because one of the secretaries at the embassy, picking up quickly on his fondness for pretty young things, had written to tell him of the attractive women he might meet there. ‘If you like to see a beautiful girl, Lettice

of America’s subsequent research – using animals and a very small number of human volunteers – was then conducted by the US Army at its chemical warfare research centre at Fort Detrick in Maryland.43 The success of this work then led to an enthusiastic memorandum, approved by the US Joint Chiefs of Staff in February 1952, declaring that henceforth the United States should be ready to deploy biological weapons ‘whenever it is militarily advantageous’. While these developments were taking place in

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