Before fate intervened, Joseph Needham was a distinguished biochemist at Cambridge University, married to a fellow scientist. In 1937 he was asked to supervise a young Chinese student named Lu Gwei-Djen, and in that moment began the two greatest love affairs of his life Miss Lu, and China.
Miss Lu inspired Needham to travel to China where he initially spent three dangerous years as a wartime diplomat. By the end of his life, Needham had become the pre-eminent China scholar of all time, a truly global figure, travelling endlessly and honoured by all. And in 1989, after a fifty-two year affair, he finally married the woman who had first inspired his passion.
Bomb, Book and Compass is Simon Winchester at his best at once a magnificent portrait of one man's remarkable life and a riveting exploration of the country that so engaged him.