Tag Archives: laowai

Book: Bomb, Book & Compass

An introduction to Sinophilia (not China).
300 pages, ★★★★

Protagonist Joseph Needham and I studied the same course at the same university, 89 years apart. We both came to China at the same age, fell in love, and (probably) spent the rest of our lives trying to understand this great civilisation. Without that connection (and add to that the highly misleading title), this book would have been a bore.

Bomb, Book and Compass should be read as a preface (or a proxy) to Needham’s epic seven-volume, one-thousand-dollar encyclopaedia on China. It’s hard to find, but excerpts on Amazon show that it’s much better-organised and much better-written than Bomb, Book and Compass. I recommend Bomb, Book and Compass only for those Sinophiles who intend to read the entire encyclopaedia… if they can find it. ★★★★