Where Is the Great Wall?

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9780448483580: Where Is the Great Wall?

More than two thousand years ago, with his land under constant attack from nomads, the First Emperor of China came up with a simple solution: build a wall to keep out enemies. It was a wall that kept growing and growing. But its construction came at a huge cost: it is believed that more than a million Chinese died building it, earning the wall its nickname--the longest cemetery on earth. Through the story of the wall, Patricia Brennan Demuth is able to tell the story of China itself, the rise and fall of dynasties, the greatness of its culture, and its present-day status as a Communist world power.

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About the Author:

Patricia Brennan Demuth is the author of What Was Ellis Island?, What Was Pearl Harbor?, Who Was Laura Ingalls Wilder?, and Who Is Bill Gates?

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Where Is the Great Wall?
 
 
More than two thousand years ago, the emperor of China had workers start building a wall. It was a wall like no other on earth—then or now. It has earned its name: the Great Wall. It is the largest structure that humans have ever made!
 
It is impossible to give its exact length. That’s because the Great Wall wasn’t built at one time. It’s a series of walls constructed over two thousand years, starting in ancient times. Emperors built new walls and linked them to old ones. Some walls decayed and fell apart. But the last Great Wall, built from about 1400 to 1600, still stands. It stretches in an unbroken line four thousand miles across China’s northern border. If placed in North America, the main wall would reach from the tip of Florida to the North Pole. 
 
There are also side walls that reach down into China to protect and enclose important places. Altogether, estimates of the Great Wall’s length range from about six thousand miles to over ten thousand miles. By any measure, it’s huge!
 
Many compare the Great Wall to a dragon, a symbol of power and strength in China. The head of the wall starts about sixty-six feet offshore, in the Pacific Ocean on China’s east coast. Then it twists and turns through the land—skirting rivers, crossing grasslands and plains, climbing steep mountains, and plunging down cliffs. Finally it ends in the harsh, dry desert on China’s western end. 
 
This amazing feat of engineering was handmade! There were no machines or power tools to help builders—no forklifts, tractors, drills, or cement mixers. There were just human hands using tools made of stone, iron, and wood. The wall ended up taking a terrible human toll. It is believed that a million Chinese died while building it.
 
Today the Great Wall awes visitors from all over the world. The story of China itself is told in its bricks, dirt, and stone. 
 
 
Chapter 1: A Reason for Walls
 
 
It’s been said that China is a land of walls within walls within walls. The ancient Chinese wanted something big and solid to keep out their enemies. So they built walls around their houses, temples, and cities. Wall building is as ancient as China itself. Almost.
 
Long before the first walls were built, China was a land of nomads. The earliest people roamed from place to place hunting game. Then, about six thousand years ago, the Chinese began to farm. They built homes, tamed animals, and planted crops. Their land was perfect for agriculture. Rich soil filled its plains. Plenty of rain fell. And three giant rivers—the Wei, Yangtze, and Huang He—drained the land.
 
Farming led to a settled way of life. Fathers worked the same small plots of land all their lives, then passed the land to their sons. Set routines were followed year after year. Farmers planted in the spring and tilled in the summer. In the fall, they stored large amounts of grain to last them through cold winters.
 
With plenty to eat and safe shelter, the Chinese thrived. Their culture became highly advanced—way ahead of other countries. A written language was developed in China as early as 2200 BC. Learned men started to write China’s history on bamboo scrolls and stone. Meanwhile other lands still relied on oral storytelling. 
 
Artists created beautiful paintings. Craftsmen made statues and containers out of polished bronze. Wise men, such as Confucius, set down their teachings. And women wove soft silk cloth. In time, Chinese silks would be prized around the world. 
 
Life flowed smoothly in ancient China—except for enemy attacks from the north. Tribes on horseback roamed the vast grasslands north of China, called the steppe. They were fearsome warriors. The people of China called the tribes by just one name: barbarians! 
 
Though the barbarians were neighbors with the Chinese, they couldn’t have been more different. They lived in round tents called yurts. In place of silks, they wore animal skins. The nomads, who couldn’t read or write, drank horse milk and ate cheese, things the Chinese looked down on.
 
Land on the steppe was much too dry for farming. So the nomads hunted the wild animals that grazed on the grass. They also raised large herds of goats and sheep. When grass grew thin in one place, they packed up their few belongings and moved to the next. 
 
The key to the nomads’ way of life was the horse. Indeed, they were the first people in the world to tame horses. Steppe children rode horseback almost as soon as they could walk. 
 
The nomads looked with envy at their wealthy neighbors to the south. China had plenty of grain and metal—things that didn’t exist on the steppe. The Chinese refused to trade with barbarians. So the nomads stole what they needed instead. In the fall, when the harvest was at its peak, warriors armed with bows and arrows swept down into China. Sometimes small bands of armies raided. Other times, it was just a few hungry horsemen. 
 
Their power lay in surprise attacks—hit and run. Horsemen stormed into farms and villages, shooting with deadly aim while galloping at full speed. They took whatever they could get. Then, in a flash, they disappeared back to the steppe. They left behind ruined villages and many dead.
 
How could the Chinese protect themselves? Conquering the nomads was impossible. There were too many small tribes. They were scattered all over the steppe and always on the move. The Chinese fell upon a simple answer: they would build walls.

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Book Description Softcover. Book Condition: New. More than two thousand years ago, with his land under constant attack from nomads, the First Emperor of China came up with a simple solution: build a wall to keep out enemies. It was a wall that kept growing and growing. But its construction came at a huge cost: it is believed that more than a million Chinese died building it, earning the wall its nickname--the longest cemetery on earth. Through the story of the wall, Patricia Brennan Demuth is able to tell the story of China itself, the rise and fall of dynasties, the greatness of its culture, and its present-day status as a Communist world power. Bookseller Inventory # 5369195

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