The Man Who Loved China group read
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I just picked this up from the library. I'll be reading in German.
Martha, I don't get any sense of those kinds of mood swings in Needham's moods in the book. If anything, he may have a touch of the spectrum, with his early social awkwardness and his obsessive listing and compilation tactics.
I can't remember who said that if we read this we would learn very little about science in China, but they were very right. It did give me a lot of respect for the subject. I may look into The Genius of China: 3,000 Years of Science, Discovery, and Invention by Robert Temple.
What a huge and impossible task Needham took on! I can't help but think what western nations would have thought if we had learned that a Chinese scientist was taking on the whole history of western science and mathematics, 15 volumes or no.