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Hardcover The Great Wall: The Extraordinary Story of China's Wonder of the World Book

ISBN: 0306817675

ISBN13: 9780306817670

The Great Wall: The Extraordinary Story of China's Wonder of the World

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Format: Hardcover

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Book Overview

The Great Wall of China is a wonder of the world. Every year, hundreds of thousands of tourists take the five-mile journey from Beijing to climb its battlements. While myriad photographs have made this extraordinary landmark familiar to millions more, its story remains mysterious and steeped in myth. In this riveting account, John Man travels the entire length of the Great Wall and across two millennia to find the truth behind the legends. Along the...

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Asia China History

Customer Reviews

3 ratings

"I am sure mankind will benefit from it in the future."

After 250 pages about the wall(s) and wall building, after learning of the incredible cost, loss of life and dubious benefits, this quote from Emir Muhammad of Qatar stays with you. While millions of tourists visit the restored wall outside of Beijing, there are hundreds of miles of wall to be explored. Author, John Man visits many less famous and some virtually unknown segments. He travels to remote areas of China and Mongolia. In some places the walls provide dwelling or market places in others they are totally forgotten. John Man, as he does in his earlier book, Attila: The Barbarian King Who Challenged Rome meets interesting people along the way who provide perspective on the 3000 year long phenomena of wall building. My only criticism of the book is its layout and format which were undoubtedly economic decisions of the publisher. For me, there was a lot of flipping back and forth. It would have been good to have a map introducing each wall segment and the segment's photos placed along with it. Also, the pictures were wonderful and each too small for its page. Perhaps this could be reworked with more photos as a coffee table book. I was very impressed with the perspective that Man was able to give on the long and complex history of China. I recommend this book for general readers, arm chair travelers and anyone interested in the history of China.

The Great Book!

"The Great Wall" by John Man is also a great book! Throughly loved it from the beginning to the end. It kind of felt like I had actually traveled the length of the actual walls (Yes - walls, it is not just one wall!). Author John Man, who has a way of making something that is historically complex come across as both interesting and entertaining; while at the same time, he manages to educate the reader. This is one history book well worth reading. I was ignorant enough to think I knew a little something about Chinese history; I found that I knew nothing. This book is well researched and goes beyond just the physical building of the walls. The author manages to skillful inter-weave politics, history, culture, and related stories into a literary blueprint of the history of the walls. The book should be considered the ultimate authority on the history of the Great Wall of China; this is the gold standard that scholars and historians should use to study. I highly recommend this book for all those readers interested in history, China or who want to learn something new. The book receives the American Authors Association's highest book rating of FIVE STARS! It also gets my personal approval!

Thoroughly Engaging, Entertaining

China, it seems, is a land that conjures much myth in the conscience of non-Chinese, and "the Great Wall," as historian John Man deftly illustrates, is one such fairy tale. To begin with: there is no wall. It simply doesn't exist. Rather there are a whole series of walls, built at different times, by different rulers, of different materials and for a whole host of entirely different reasons. This assortment of barriers was never effective at keeping out the marauding barbarian hordes, chiefly because it was never intended to do that. And those barbarian hordes, as Man explains, were never that barbaric to begin with. In fact, just about every conception you ever had about the divide(s) is most likely dead wrong, and part of the pleasure of reading this book is finding out the truth. Man's style is a bit workmanlike in places, but occasionally it glimmers with poetic description. He's a researcher - an expert on Mongolia, for example - and an explorer, and his tone is intelligent and down-to-earth. He tracks the walls' sections through most of the country, and his travels, supplemented by his copious research and excellent knowledge of ancient Chinese and Mongolian history, are really fun to read; a man on a serious mission in an often baffling, bizarre and not-so-serious country. I really liked this book. I learned heaps and was entertained while doing it. In fact, I went out and bought another one of his books: The Terracotta Army, which is on the waiting list. With The Great Wall, don't expect to be bowled over with elegant prose, but do expect do come out knowing a great deal more about China's national symbol - and its national mindset - than just about anyone.
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