Bomb, Book & Compass

Winchester, Simon

  12 Reviews

Subtitled Joseph Needham and the Secrets of China, this is the story of one of the unsung heroes of science, and the country of his life-long passion. In his 24 volume magnum opus, this brilliant British biochemist and academic chronicled China's scientific and technological achievements over five thousand years, which included gunpowder, printing and the compass. An accessible writing style and impeccable research makes this book a fascinating read for scientist and non-scientist alike.

Comments from Groups

Fascinating book, especially for those who have travelled The Silk Road. Very well written. Tauranga 004

We all thought this was a great book and thoroughly recommend it. Although the writing is dense it is not a difficult read. Joseph Needham was a complex and fascinating scientist and the list of Chinese discoveries is mind boggling.Rotorua 006

Amazing book - fascinating man - not one of us had heard of him before and most of us were enthralled by the book, the man and the writer. Tekuiti 002

With China being in the news so much - it was interesting to learn of their achievements over the decades. Only one lady had heard of Joseph Needham. A good read, Auckland 058

Excellent book, loved by all our group. Fascinating biography of a remarkable man. We had a very lively discussion which started as soon as we arrived - no one talked about other things, we were all so keen to discuss his life and the book. Gave us all some new insights into China - not such a mystery and a place we all felt more curious to visit. Auckland 037



CHCH 527
Our group enjoyed this read - the burning question of why the Chinese inventiveness suddenly stopped mid 15th Century was never answered. We thought the book was more about the story of Joseph Needham .
Another great book by Simon Winchester. Needham was an extraordinary man with unstoppable energy and an amazingly inquisitive mind. He was stoic in his quest to discover China for himself, its history and its inventions. The only criticism we have is that Winchester could have written more about the inventions and less of Needham. Having said that, we did enjoy the book and our discussion (after the questions) did gravitate to discussing Needham's marriage arrangements!
CHCH 063
We all (7) of us thought it was a great book.
Really interesting story, another great read by Simon Wincester.
CHCH 010
The majority of our group thoroughly enjoyed this book about discovery and invention pre 15th Century - unknown by the west until exposed by Joseph Needham during the early 1940s. These inventions preceded by centuries similar inventions in the west. Simon Wincester's research for the writing of the book is intensive, Joseph Needham's life interesting, and as a group we were unable to answer the question posed by Needham himself, why did invention cease after the 15th century Despite this we had a good discussion and can recommend the book as an interesting and informative read.
NELS 020
Fascinating. Loved the personal story of the eccentric Joseph Needham. We learned so much about how creative and clever the Chinese were prior to Communism.
This book was enjoyed very much by those who read it; however there were only 5 at the meeting and only 3 of us had finished it. It still made for a very good discussion as the subject was fascinating and we learnt a lot about China as well as the unusual and highly entertaining Needham. One of our members had studied Chinese history at university and was able to give us more insights.
The group did not meet to discuss this book, but individuals commented that it was an interesting read. Not a 'page turner' but full of details that many felt warranted further research - interest was piqued by the content.
We enjoyed the book immensely, marvelling at both Joseph Needham and Simon Wincester, and of course, the number of inventions that China made long before anybody else!
Members were interested to learn something very new to them. Awestruck by the amount of material produced. For some it was too detailed. For others, fascination.
TAIH 002
One of the most interesting and informative books we have read. An amazing man, and all those who read the book ( a few didn't like it) were astounded by the early Chinese progress.
Another great book by Simon Winchester. His painstakingly research coupled with his very engaging writing style makes this a good read. In another's hands this could have ended up as a dry list of historic events but he really brings Needham to life and details his travel and many discoveries while in China. I think one of his strengths is that he doesn't judge his subjects but instead paints a picture and lets you work it out for yourself. Most of us finished the book and all those that did really enjoyed it. Any of his books are rich picking.