The world’s preeminent authority on Chinese science explores the philosophy, social structure, arts, crafts, and even military strategies that form our understanding of Chinese science, making instructive comparisons along the way to similar elements of Indian, Hellenistic, and Arabic cultures. A major portion of the book concentrates on Taoist alchemy that led not only to the invention of gunpowder and firearms, but also, through the search for macrobiotic life-elixirs, to the rise of modern medical chemistry.
Freewheeling, amusing, constantly alert and rarely dogmatic… Needham keeps the reader aware of the place of China within a comparative context of global scientific discovery… [A] stimulating book.
A satisfying taste from the kitchen spoon of a great chef as he prepares an august banquet. It is 100 admirable pages, an honest sample of Needham’s comparative method that brightens the shadows in our own history with light reflecting from the unexpected Chinese scene… This little book [makes] a fine day’s sail for readers.
It is pleasant to report that Needham—now in his eighty-fifth year—has written another magnificent book… Absorbing and stimulating.