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The Man Who Loved China

In the lead-up to this summer’s Beijing Olympics, a lot of people are talking about China. So the timing feels right for Simon Winchester’s curious and diverting true-life yarn. Winchester recounts how oddball British scientist Joseph Needham, after arriving in Chungking in 1943, put together a 15,000-page book on China’s scientific and cultural development. The Man Who Loved China is an offbeat character study, not a regurgitation of the nation’s history, but because Winchester (The Professor and the Madman) is such a fantastic storyteller, you emerge with a clearer picture of a mysterious country. B+

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