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The Great Wall

Man, John

203 ratings by Goodreads
ISBN 10: 0593055756 / ISBN 13: 9780593055755
Published by Bantam Press, 2008
Used Condition: Very Good
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Bibliographic Details

Title: The Great Wall

Publisher: Bantam Press

Publication Date: 2008

Book Condition:Very Good

Edition: Airport / Export ed.

About this title


China’s Great Wall north of Beijing is one of the world’s most famous sights. Millions every year climb the line of stone snaking over mountains. We all feel we know the Wall. But we are wrong. It is too big, too varied, too complex to be captured by a few images or a day-trip.

Myths surround it. Many believe that the stone barrier marches across all China, that it has been in existence for over 2,000 years, and that it is the only man-made structure visible from the Moon. In fact, most of it is made of earth, and much of it is not there at all. It cannot even be seen from earth orbit, let alone the Moon. Estimates of its length vary from 1,500 to 5,000 miles. Even its name is deceptive: it is not an it, a single entity, but many walls (hence the uncertain length), built at different times.

Yet behind the confusion are great simplicities. The many walls are united by two ideas — self-protection and unity — which go back to the First Emperor, who founded the nation in 221 BC. For 2,000 years, the Wall marked the border between China and nomadic peoples to the north and west. Mutual hostility inspired centuries of attacks, counter-attacks and Wall-building, until the northward spread of China in the 20th century made the Wall redundant.

For this riveting account, John Man travelled the Wall from the far western deserts to the Pacific, exploring the grandest sections and many “wild” ones. He is the first writer to describe two unknown walls in Mongolia. He covers two millennia of history, from the country’s first unification to the present day, when the Great Wall, built and rebuilt over centuries of war, has become a symbol of tranquility.
From the Hardcover edition.

From the Back Cover:

The Great Wall of China is a wonder of the world. Hundreds of thousands of tourists every year make the five-mile journey from Beijing to climb its battlements. It is instantly familiar to millions more from the myriad photographs of this extraordinary landmark. But what do we really know about the Great Wall?

Many myths surround it - for example, that it is visible from space. Not true: it cannot even be seen from earth orbit. Estimates of its length vary from 1,500 to 5,000 miles. Even its name is deceptive – it is not in fact a single entity, but many walls (hence the uncertain length), most of which are built not of stone but of earth. Different sections were built by different states and were first joined together in the third century BC, to counter the threat from nomadic barbarians from the north – a threat that was to menace China’s borders for almost 2,000 years.

In this riveting history John Man travels the entire length of the Great Wall and across over two millennia. In so doing, he finds a fascinating way into China’s remarkable and complex history, taking us from the country’s tribal past, through the war with the Mongols, right up to the modern day, when the Great Wall is once more a powerful emblem of the resurgent superpower.

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