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on 8 May 2009
Another great book by John Man.

This book's subject is the Great Wall of China. It is not only a history of the wall but also deals with its cultural and sociological effects and is all the better for that. Mr Man travels around China visiting the wall and visits communities nearby to it, academic who have studied it, photographers etc. It is an interesting study and one which is informative as well as entertaining. For example, I had always assumed that there was just one wall but in fact there are several and they are not joined up, indeed it was not even the intention to ever have one continuous wall that would cross the entirety of China. Did you know that one theory even says that Roman soldiers garrisoned a part of it at one time (although this theroy is rather discredited nowadays).

Definitely one to recommend.
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on 26 October 2011
Don't expect an in-depth academic tome; this is an easy read. As Man journeys along the Great Wall, generally from west to east, he discusses the creation of the vast barrier - killing off a few myths and introducing equally fascinating true stories in their place. He talks about the emperors who built the wall and the barbarians who it sought to keep out (not altogether successfully!) Personally, I would have liked to seen a little more on the wall in the 20th and 21st centuries - how the Communists viewed the structure, and how modern China is using it to pull in the tourists. However, those are small points, and this book achieves what Man set out to do - an easy and enjoyable account of the Great Wall.
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on 13 August 2015
An excellent book and well written. Man's book is an amazing insight on the world of the Terracotta Army and its history. It is an easy to read and enjoyable book with a charm all of its own. Man also shows great respect and humility throughout his writing, his journalistic background being very recognisable. The book also contains colour images which help the reader appreciate the incredible discoveries. After reading Man's book I was inspired to write my own own book of fiction.
W.M.Aslam
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on 31 May 2009
John Man does a great job in telling the history of the Great Wall. But he does a lot more than that and he also cleans up two myths about it.
Myth Number One: the Great Wall can be seen from Space or from the Moon. This myth was invented in the 1930s and people quite readily believed it. Now that even the Chinese have been to Space and confirmed that it is not possible to see the Wall from up there all doubts should be laid to rest.
Myth Number Two: The Great Wall is one coherent monument. John Man quite clearly shows that the Wall was never the unity its name suggests. It comes in all shapes, forms and sizes both made of earth and stone. His book should really be called the `Great Walls'.
John Man covers the various Walls built in China and Mongolia in quite some detail with part one covering the walls made of earth and part two covering those made of stone. What makes this book such great reading are all the tales he recounts which are connected to certain sections of the Walls and the time in history when they were built.
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on 15 July 2015
Unable to give proper review of this purchase re.content as it was bought as a present.
The person I bought it for I know was delighted.
They did inform me that they found out many facts they were not aware of.
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on 5 January 2010
Another great book from an excellent and very readable author. Once you have read one of his books you will want the rest.
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on 16 December 2008
At least this author admits that none of the Chinese walls can be seen from space and that there is more than one wall(at last count there were 14) but continues to use the misnomer The Great Wall Of China which should at least be in the pleural.
The author recounts in well written detail a)the earth walls which includes the 3 walls of the Warring States (350-300bc)and the Han Wall (202bc-220ad) plus b)the stone walls-the Jin Wall(1115-1234)and the Ming wall (1368-1644) Only the Ming Wall which runs from the Pacific coast at the border of China with North Korea to the JadeGate at Juiyguan about 4000 miles to the west could be considered the Great wall which in fact is a European invention as the Chinese Call the walls frontier walls.
The pictures are excellent but a few more would have enhanced the book. The maps are of below average quality.
There is a good bibliography,the appendix giving dates of dynastys and the chronology of the walls is excellent but it should have been placed at the front of the book.
The chapter on the Lost Legion is a nice touch.
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on 8 December 2011
This is a good starting point for information on the Great Wall (or walls) of China. No technical detail here but a basic history of how and when the walls were built.
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VINE VOICEon 16 November 2011
The Great Wall of China is one of the most famous structures on Earth and as such as much myth has grown up around it as there is history. This book tells the story of the Wall (or more properly Walls as there are more than one) from the time of the First Emperor up to more modern times as the author travels from West to East along much of its length, with a few detours. The as well as the history of the Great Wall, this book also includes and analyses some of the myths such as the story of a Legion of Roman soldiers settling close to the wall and the story of Meng Jiangnu whose tears supposedly caused a section of the wall to collapse.

I do enjoy John Man's books as he is a very enjoyable and easy to read author who has an obvious interest in the subjects that he covers. This book is in his usual style mixing historic accounts and explanations with his own travels making for a very informative and interesting book.

This book is definitely a book that anyone who is interested in the history of China should be interested in reading.
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on 19 February 2015
Worth a look but this is not an academic work
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